First the good news: East Bengal's I-League second round match has been shifted from the churned up Barasat Stadium park to the more verdant Yuba Bharati Krirangan. Typical of the people who run football in this country, the change wasn't officially notified till Monday morning but neither team should complain after seeing how football got stuck in the slush over the weekend.
"I saw Mumbai FC play Mohun Bagan but the ground was so bad that really it was very difficult to assess," East Bengal coach Stanley Rozario said of his opponents, after an intensive training session at home on Monday morning.
Now for the bad news: The swelling on Sunil Chhetri's right ankle hadn't subsided enough for the India striker to take part in the final training session before Tuesday evening's game. Chhetri, who scored the third goal against United SC on Friday, had attended the post-match media conference with an ice pack. Two days later at the East Bengal ground, he was still giving the ankle the same treatment.
"There is still some time to go," Rozario said, adding "Chhetri is a brave boy." Syed Rahim Nabi also felt Chhetri should play but if the amount of attention strikers Ashim Biswas and Parveen Kumar got is any indication, Rozario is keeping Plan B ready.
Chhetri's usual partner in the front third, Edmilson Marques, too has a side-strain but following medication, went through the grind and Rozario later said the Brazilian would be available.
Barring Chhetri, it is unlikely Rozario will change the XI which started with a 3-1 win. "The first round victory really lifted spirits. The boys are now a lot more confident and importantly, more motivated," he said.
Tuesday's contestants have the same associate sponsor but against a team which humbled Mohun Bagan, East Bengal will need to keep up the intensity. And soon after Rozario again explained why that had tapered in the second half on Friday, Nabi said they would have to watch out against "relaxing too early."
Post the dream campaign opener, Mumbai FC, general manager Henry Menezes said, don't have any injury worries. On whether they are unhinged by a wider park and how David Booth prevents Yusif Yakubu from playing between his midfield and defence could be the little details that alter the picture completely.
In Kalyan Choubey, Kalia Kulothungan, Subhas Chakraborty, Selwyn Fernandes and Sanjay Parte, Mumbai FC have men who won't slip in the slush. Unlike Bagan, though East Bengal have more of that and six of them also play for India. But having won the battle on Saturday, Mumbai FC would like to show they aren't thin on the skill quotient eit