Mohun Bagan vs Pailan Arrows
Pailan Arrows take on Mohun Bagan in a crucial match of the I-League to be played at the Salt Lake Stadium on Friday (January 27). Pailan are currently placed just above HAL at 7 points from 14 matches while Bagan stay on 27 points from 16 outings.
Pailan Arrows, who are still searching for that elusive win which might “turn their fortune,” would go all out against Mohun Bagan, against whom they had lost their first round encounter 1-3.
Arrows’ Technical Director, Sukhwinder Singh, stays confident. “No one can deny that Bagan are a big team. We did lose to East Bengal in our last match. But I think we are definitely improving,” he stressed.
“We have scored thrice in our last two matches. In the first-leg, we were not able to convert the chances that came our way. I feel the strikers are prepared for the challenge.”
“We are yet to secure a win and we stay desperate for it. Hopefully, we will get it against Bagan. But they are a very strong opponent,” he added.
“But in the I-League, there’s very minimal difference between the teams. We won’t be intimidated by our rivals in any way,” he maintained.
On the other hand, Mohun Bagan’s sailing hasn’t been that smooth as they lost their last two matches against Sporting Clube and Prayag United. At the moment, the big-spending Club can’t afford any more slip-ups if they intend to finish in the top-five.
East Bengal vs Churchill Brothers
Churchill Brothers Sports Club and East Bengal both have defensive concerns ahead of the team’s important I-League clash at the Nehru Stadium, Fatorda on Friday (January 27).
Churchill Brothers have lost two of their last three matches and coach Manuel Gomes is keen to break the trend. But the Portuguese coach will find it extremely difficult to contain the marauding rival strikers as he struggles to put up a decent defence.
Defenders Gouramangi Singh and Denzil Franco are both suspended with double bookings and the coach may have to bring in new faces to fill the void. One such player that the coach is banking on is Saran Singh who has not had much to do in League so far. Naveen Kumar Sudhakaran is expected to play at the centre of defence.
The coach will also be concerned by the continued absence of Lalrindika Ralte due to injury. Jerry Zirsanga is almost certain to be handed a place in the starting line-up.
The clash against East Bengal will be crucial to Churchill’s title chances and there is a general belief that another defeat could spell doom for the former champions.
East Bengal on the other hand, have given a good account of themselves but at times, Trevor Morgan’s side has appeared sluggish. Inconsistency, too, has been a big bane.
“Yes, our performance has been inconsistent. We lost some of the matches which we should have won. But having said that, I think we are in a good position. Ideally, we would have loved to be at the top of the table by now. We need to stay focused,” Morgan told the-aiff.com in a previous interview.
The coach also has defensive concerns, something he intends to correct with the return of Nirmal Chettri. “Defensive organisation is an aspect we need to improve upon,” said the coach.