Dicka upbeat at Norde’s return to Mohun Bagan

Sony Norde, who was instrumental in Mohun Bagan’s first I-League title in 2014, was received by fans in Kolkata with fanfare, and Dicka is keen to play with the Haitian as a strike partner.

Dipanda Dicka (9) was the top scorer in I-League 2017-18.   -  Biswaranjan Rout

Mohun Bagan striker Aser Dipanda Dicka is upbeat at the return of Sony Norde, saying the Haitian international would play a crucial role in the club’s title quest in the I-League this season.

Norde, who was with Mohun Bagan since 2014, left the club midway last season after suffering a knee injury. He returned to Kolkata on Monday after signing a new contract.

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Norde, who was instrumental in Mohun Bagan’s first I-League title in 2014, was received by fans in Kolkata with fanfare, and Dicka said that he was looking to play with the Haitian as a strike partner.

“We have a very good side, it is a balanced one. The club has signed two new foreigners who are strikers. We won the Kolkata League and we are a serious contender for the I-League title,” Dicka, who was named the best I-League striker for the last two seasons, told PTI at the sidelines of the launch of this season’s I-League.

“With Sony coming back, our team has even got stronger, he is the crucial man for winning the title this time. I am looking forward to pairing with him,” said the Cameroonian, who is in his second year with the Green and Maroons.

Mohun Bagan was in title contention till the final match day of last season but eventually ended at third behind champion Minerva Punjab and Neroca.

Dicka, however, believes a strong Mohun Bagan side would be the team to beat this time.

Asked which side could be Mohun Bagan’s nearest competitor for the title, Dicka picked out arch-rival East Bengal.

“I think East Bengal will the biggest competitor for us in the title contest. We are gunning for the title and I think East Bengal can finish runners-up. Then, Neroca and Minerva Punjab can be in the top four,” said the 29-year-old, who played for Shillong Lajong in 2016-17 before shifting base to Kolkata.

Acosta ready for challenge

East Bengal also made a big signing in Costa Rican World Cupper Johnny Acosta, who said he decided to come to India in search of new challenges.

“When I was approached by East Bengal, I took advice from Alexandre Guimaraes (who coached ISL side Mumbai City FC from 2014-16). I want new challenges in new countries and so I said yes,” Acosta said.

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“Moreover from what I heard and read, Indian football was rising in the last few years and so I decided to come and play for East Bengal,” said the 35-year-old defender, who played in the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Acosta said he is aware of the big rivalry between his side and Mohun Bagan and is gearing up to give his best in the I-League.

“I have been in India for the last three months, the football system is different here but I am adapting to the conditions. I have played against Mohun Bagan in the Kolkata league and I know the atmosphere and pressure in Kolkata,” he said.

“My job is top give my best on the field and help the club win the I-League.”

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