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Defending champs Bagan wary of Mumbai threat

Haitian Sony Norde, seen here at a training session, will spearhead Mohun Bagan's attack against Mumbai FC.— Photo: Vivek Bendre

The Hindu

Haitian Sony Norde, seen here at a training session, will spearhead Mohun Bagan’s attack against Mumbai FC.— Photo: Vivek Bendre

Sanjoy Sen is gearing up for a tough match as champion Mohun Bagan faces off against Mumbai FC at the Cooperage stadium. The Kolkata team possesses quality and firepower, but the coach believes the opponents will make things difficult on the pitch.

The visitor has three wins in four games, while the host has won two matches from five so far. Bagan’s Pritam Kotal will not available due to national duty (South Asian Federation Games), while MFC forward Jayesh Rane, one of his India teammates, is set to miss the home game on Wednesday.

Sen said: “I appreciate the work put in by Khalid Jamil (MFC coach). Mumbai FC is a difficult team to face; playing them at home is tougher.”

Bagan has a fearsome strike force in Sony Norde (Haiti), Glen Cornell (Trinidad & Tobago) and Jeje Lalpekhlua, supported by competent midfielders and defenders.

Norde and Jeje were among the crowd-pullers in ISL 2015, donning the colours of Mumbai City FC and Chennaiyin FC respectively. Bagan defender Luciano Sabrosa from Brazil was one of the big names for FC Goa.

Delhi Dynamos FC defender Souvik Chakraborty is reputed for his work ethic and expected to extend his ISL form into the I-League.

Crowd responses are different for these players, from the high-voltage ISL to moderate audiences for the I-League. Replying to the query whether Bagan can attract fans in numbers, Sen replied: “When it is East Bengal vs Mohun Bagan in the I-League, crowds come. I don’t know why the response is not so encouraging elsewhere.”

Arata Izumi, who scored many exciting goals in the ISL for Atletico de Kolkata, will lead MFC. The home team’s Ashutosh Mehta has made 99 appearances so far, and is eyeing a milestone.

Bengaluru FC was a big name to bite the dust against Jamil’s side in the previous match at the Cooperage.

Asked if he expects MFC to rise to the occasion against the I-League champion, he was cautious: “Bagan is talented and we need to be careful.”

The Kolkata side won 2-0 away against debutant DSK Shivajians in Pune, against whom MFC went down by a lone goal.

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