The Jordanian team Al Wihdat landed in Kolkata on Sunday afternoon with a 17-member squad for their AFC Cup Group D match against Mohun Bagan. In the backdrop of their 1-1 draw against Kuwait SC at home last Tuesday, Al Wihdat coach Akram Ahmed Salman said he would like his team's fortunes to be reversed.
"We lost valuable points against Kuwait SC at home and we would like to compensate that with a win here," Akram said. The newly appointed coach however, is no stranger to Indian conditions as he had previously visited Kolkata as the coach of the Iraqi team Al Rasheed in 1985.
"Right now, I am concerned about the weather and fatigue. It's important that our team adapts to these conditions," he added. The team has chosen to train on Monday afternoon, keeping in mind the schedule of the match (2.30 pm at the Howrah Municipal Stadium).
Mohun Bagan though stuck to their plans of giving the I-League more importance and might opt for some changes in the line-up on Tuesday.
Marcos Perreira, who had fluffed a penalty against Al Karamah, didn't take part in Sunday's practice session and Jose Barreto too skipped training, but that was on expected lines.
Rino Anto was seen manning the right back area with Deepak Mondal in central defence while Rahul Kumar took position in central midfield along with Rakesh Masih. Going by the team fielded during the practice session, Mohun Bagan might again go for Bhaichung Bhutia as the lone striker.
Bhutia though claimed that one couldn't be sure about the team combination yet.
Asked about his opponents, Bhutia admitted Al Wihdat were a better team.
"They have been quarter-finalists in the Arab League and that says a lot about them."
Meanwhile, Coach Bob Houghton might have gone on to ask Indian clubs to release players for the Asian Cup in 2011 but skipper Bhutia said that he did not know about any such plans. "The plan worked for Guus Hiddink when he was South Korea's coach in the 2002 World Cup but that doesn't mean it will be successful here as well.
To be very honest, we haven't spoken about this at all," he said.
Sporting hold EB
PTI adds from Margao: Sporting Clube De Goa's title aspirations received a jolt as they were held to a 1-1 draw by East Bengal in the 19th round of the ONGC-I-League at Nehru Stadium.