Wounded Bagan up against confident Lajong side

The Mariners are coming in to the tie on the back of two successive defeats against newcomer Aizawl FC and arch-rival Kingfisher East Bengal in the incident-packed Kolkata derby.

Shillong Lajong is currently fourth in the closely-knit league table with 14 points whereas Mohun Bagan has amassed 25 points playing one match more.

I-League leader Mohun Bagan has to fasten will want nothing other than a win on Tuesday when it takes on Shillong Lajong FC at the JN Stadium. The Mariners are coming in to the tie on the back of two successive defeats against newcomer Aizawl FC and arch-rival Kingfisher East Bengal in the incident-packed Kolkata derby.

Stung by the absence of their coach Sanjoy Sen and assistant coach, both of whom are currently under suspension, the Mariners will have their task cut out against a Shillong Lajong side which pulled off a fine victory over north-east rival Aizawl FC in its last home outing.

The result of Tuesday’s tie will play a major role in deciding whether Mohun Bagan will go on to retain the I-League title. Mariners’ physical trainer, Garcia, who will be in charge tomorrow, minced no words when he said, “It will be a tough match tomorrow, anything can happen.”

He, however, downplayed speculations that absence of the coach and his deputy will affect the team’s chances on the field. “We have a good set of players who have been there for a while. They know their roles and are well prepared for the crucial game.

"Moreover, it is not the first time that I am acting as a coach, I have been a former footballer and know my job well,” Garcia concluded.

Meanwhile, buoyed by last game’s success, Lajong coach Thangboi Singto was happy the players were finding the back of the net. He added, “Bagan are a great side with quality Indian and foreign players, and it will not be easy for us by any means."

Singto underlined that with only four matches to go in the season, all the ties are crucial and the idea would be to focus on one game at a time. Meanwhile, the hero from the other night, Fabio Pena, is doubtful against the Mariners tomorrow owing to his groin.

In a bid to put the pressure back on the opponents he said, “Bagan too have a lot at stake and we hope to see a big crowd in tomorrow.”

Birthday boy Penn Orji echoed his coach stating that the two home games were extremely crucial for the Reds. A former Red & Golds player, Orji said he has always relished those encounters against Mariners and he'll surely try to utilise his experiences.

Shillong Lajong is currently fourth in the closely-knit league table with 14 points whereas Mohun Bagan has amassed 25 points playing one match more.