Preview: Mohun Bagan vs South China

Mohun Bagan host South China in a defining game for the latter in Group G of the AFC Cup on Wednesday.

The hosts have already qualified for the last-16 as Group G winners. However, South China need to win to assure themselves of second spot as they currently have six points. Yangon United and Maziya Sports & Recreation play each other in the group’s other game and both those sides are on five points.

When South China and Mohun Bagan last met back in March, the I-League club triumphed in style, scoring four goals and keeping a clean sheet.

Domestically, Mohun Bagan finished second in the I-League which concluded on April 23.

They are currently competing in the Federation Cup where they have been able to replicate their fine form on the continent.

Since the beginning of May, Mohun Bagan have beaten Salgaocar SC 7-2 over two legs and most recently triumphed 5-0 over Lajong in the first leg of that tie.

Despite their impressive recent record, Mohun Bagan coach Sanjoy Sen refused to take anything for granted ahead of the clash against the Hong Kong club and insisted that his players would need to work hard to maintain their unbeaten run in Asia.

“Obviously we want to win the match because we have so far been undefeated and we want to finish the group stages as unbeaten champions. And I think we can do it definitely,” said Sen.

“Even though we beat South China 4-0 in the reverse fixture, it was tough going for us which most people won’t say after seeing the scoreline. I think they have a chance to qualify and hence they will be obviously hungry.”

Sen will be desperate for his star striker Jeje Lalpekhlua to add to the six goals he has scored in the AFC Cup thus far on Wednesday. Sony Norde will want to deliver as much high-quality service from his wing as possible to afford the Indian star plenty of looks at goal.

Meanwhile, South China finished the regular Hong Kong Premier League season in third place. While they will be smarting from the aforementioned 4-0 pasting they were on the receiving end of when they last played Mohun Bagan, they can at least take confidence from the 3-2 league victory they recorded against Southern District on Saturday.

In the build-up to the match, South China coach Ricardo Rambo was confident his side would be able to get it done against Mohun Bagan and was relishing the challenge of taking on a high-quality football side.

“Obviously Mohun Bagan defeated us 4-0 and they are a great team and we have to do much better this time around but the boys are motivated and I am sure we can do well and win the encounter,” said Rambo, who will be without suspended forward Lam Hok Hei.

“We are looking to win since a win will confirm our participation in the next round and we don’t have to depend on the results of the other teams in fray.

“I only worry about my own team and not the opponents. So if we play well it really doesn’t matter the players they play with.”

Veteran Australian forward Ryan Griffiths will need to hold up the ball and be on hand on to convert any chances that come his way if South China are to stand any chance against a very talented Mohun Bagan outfit. Griffiths already has two goals to his name in the AFC Cup.

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