A lot has changed since Bello Razzaq headed in an 87th-minute equaliser to give Mohun Bagan the I-League last May. Razzaq, for one, has joined East Bengal. But Mohun Bagan surely will have good memories of the Kanteerava stadium where they meet Bengaluru FC in the I-League on Saturday.
Mohun Bagan could do with some fond memories, especially since their last two matches -- both away, against Shandong Luneng in the Asian Champions League qualifier and Mumbai FC in the I-League —haven’t gone their way. They lost 0-6 in China and drew 0-0 in Mumbai. But coach Sanjoy Sen and his team know that the past doesn’t matter when two title contenders to the I-League line up.
“Undoubtedly this match will be a tough one for us. They are top notch in every department. Bengaluru FC are the most consistent team in the last three years. They might lose a match, but they comeback strongly,” said Sen.
Bengaluru FC coach Ashley Westwood too played down the “grudge” angle, saying that this halfway stage clash won’t really “impact the title race as such.”
While Mohun Bagan split points on the road, Bengaluru FC whipped DSK Shivajians 4-1 in the last round. Westwood said he was pleased that Bengaluru FC had four different scorers in that game. “It’s the sign of a good side. We aren’t reliant on one or two players like some teams are. Our goals are shared across – Vineeth has a few, as do Sunil and Kim. Even Osano has a goal for himself.”
Striker Cornell Glen attributed Mohun Bagan’s draw, their second in five rounds, to a bad day at the office. “What happened in the last game is something that happens to every team – a bad day.”
Glenn, a summer signing for Mohun Bagan, has forged a potent partnership with Sony Norde ahead while Katsumi Yusa pulls the strings in the midfield. The trio coming up against what is easily the strongest central defensive pairing in the League in John Johnson and Curtis Osano, will be an interesting sub-plot to the game.
The teams have met five times in all competitions where Bengaluru and Mohun Bagan have won a game each while three of the fixtures have ended up in draws. Mohun Bagan have 11 points from five games and Bengaluru FC have 15 from seven.
Sen replied to the showcause notice issued by the All India Football Federation on Friday. It was learnt that Sen has written if his comments had upset anyone at the AIFF, he is sorry. The Mohun Bagan coach said his comments criticising the AIFF were made on the spur of the moment on hearing that the match against DSK Shivajians won’t be deferred.