Mohun Bagan and Tampines Rovers will battle for a spot in the quarter-finals of the AFC Cup on Tuesday.
Mohun Bagan were in impressive form during the group stage of the tournament as they were unbeaten until the final matchday, where they lost 3-0 to South China. Despite suffering their first defeat, Mohun Bagan finished on top of the Group G standings with 11 points and have home-ground advantage as a result.
Tampines, on the other hand, had to wait until the final matchday to book their spot in the round of 16 as they were locked in a tight battle with Selangor FA. The Singaporean side eventually progressed through to the next round after they beat Selangor 1-0 on May 10.
— Tampines Rovers FC (@MightyStags) 22 May 2016
Mohun Bagan will feel they hold the advantage heading into the fixture as they enter the clash on the back of an impressive domestic performance in which they crushed Aizawl FC 5-0 on Saturday to claim their 14th Federation Cup title.
Tampines sit in second place on the S.League standings and drew 0-0 with Warriors F.C. last Tuesday.
Heading into the fixture, Tampines will want to keep their eyes on Mohun Bagan forward Lalpekhlua Jeje who has found the back of the net six times during the group stage.
Mohun Bagan meanwhile will have to watch out for Muhammad Hafiz Bin Abu Sujad who scored twice during the group stage.
While Mohun Bagan will have their sights set on the quarter-finals, they will have to get the job done without midfielder Katsumi Yusa as he injured his ankle during their Federation Cup triumph. The I-League club will also be without the services of forward Sony Norde, who scored three goals in the group stage, as he will be representing Haiti in the Copa America.
While Tampines coach V. Sundramoorthy is pleased that his side don’t have to worry about Yusa and Norde, he will be going into the game without star striker Billy Mehmet, who scored three goals in the group stage, as he is suspended.
“Katsumi and Sony are two key players for Mohun Bagan,” Sundramoorthy told the official AFC website. “We do have the momentum but we too have our suspensions and injuries. So it’s a level playing field. It balances it out.”
Sundramoorthy also isn’t concerned about the fact that Mohun Bagan cruised past his side 3-1 in an AFC Champions League first round qualifying match in January.
“Mohun Bagan are a very good team,” he said. “When we came here in January it was our first competitive game. We were in pre-season mood then and now it’s different because it’s midway through our season. We have many games under our belt and mentally and physically we are ready.”
Meanwhile, Mohun Bagan coach Sanjoy Sen is confident that his side will be able to get the job done even with two key players.
“This is not the first time that we are missing some players,” he said. “So it will not be a problem for us, in fact it will be a challenge for the players who replace them.
“The last time we played Tampines, it was different. There are a lot of changes so it will be a different ball game. They have strengthened the team so it will be tough for us.
“My target tomorrow is to win. We have one more step to go after winning the Fed Cup. One more step to go. Of course if I get the opportunity I would like to score but it’s more important the team wins.”
Mohun Bagan and Tampines will meet at the Indira Gandhi Stadium in Guwahati at 21:20 HKT on FOX Sports 3.