Saturday , 20 April 2019

Mohun Bagan will strive to keep Valencia under wraps


Mohun Bagan will aim to make amends for conceding a late goal in the first leg and clinch a berth in the AFC Cup group stage when they meet Club Valencia of Maldives in the second leg of their South Zone play-off at the Rabindra Sarobar Stadium here on Tuesday.
Mohun Bagan will be keen to make amends after being held 1-1 in the first leg despite taking an early lead.
Striker Darryl Duffy had handed the lead to the Kolkata giants in the sixth minute but Valencia had managed to rescue a point when Godfrey West scored from the penalty spot in the 71st minute.
The hosts however, enjoy the advantage thanks to Duffy’s away goal and a goalless draw will be enough to see them go through.
The winners of this two-legged tie will clinch a spot in Group E of the 2017 AFC Cup.
Currently involved in a keen tussle for the top spot in the I-League with arch-rivals East Bengal, Mohun Bagan coach Sanjoy Sen had decided against fielding a full strength in the first leg.
Sen had decided to rest six of his first choice players including star winger Sony Norde, who was battling a niggle in his knee.
However, the Haiti international has reportedly recovered and is likely to take the field on Tuesday.
Sen asserted that the hosts will be eager to make amends for the first leg and go for a win on Tuesday.
“We will have to start from zero. This is a must win situation and we will try to register a big win. We could have won by a big margin in the first leg and a big win will help us erase those memories, the Mohun Bagan coach told reporters on the eve of the match.
“They showed strong character in the first leg by earning a draw despite conceding an early lead. We cannot take them lightly and will have to be cautious,” he added.
Apart from Norde, the hosts will look to Duffy, the talented Jeje Lalpekhlua and striker Balwant Singh to come up with the goals.
The Mohun Bagan defense however, has been a cause for concern although they have performed better in the last couple of matches.
Valencia on the other hand, has been struggling with their form lately. They have lost the last six games in their domestic league which has exposed the frailties in their defense.
Chizi Kaka Chinda is the bedrock of the visitors’ defense and the experienced Nigerian will have to be at the top of his game in order to contain the Mohun Bagan forward line.
Upfront, 20-year-old Nigerian Godfrey West Omodu has been impressive with his pace and finishing skills and his combination with Ahmed Rilwan could prove to be a headache for the Mohun Bagan defenders.
“We did well to earn a draw at our home ground and will aim to give them a tough fight here as well,” Valencia coach Ahmed Mujuthaba said.
Mohun Bagan and Valencia have had five previous encounters. Both teams have won two matches each while one ended in a draw.
Mohun Bagan had thrashed the Maldives outfit 7-1 in the now defunct Asian Club Championship during the 1994-95 seasons.
During the 1996-97 seasons, Valencia had won both legs, defeating the Indian club 2-1 in their away encounter before scripting a 1-0 win at home.
The two teams met again during the 2002-03 season. The first leg in Kolkata had ended in a 2-2 draw before Mohun Bagan registered a comfortable 3-0 away win.
However, Valencia has qualified for the group stage of the AFC Cup every time they reached the play-offs and the current squad will be eager to maintain that record.

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