Kolkata heavyweights Mohun Bagan are desperate to earn their first three-pointers of the 13th I-League season as they come up against debutants TRAU FC of Manipur at the Kalyani Municipality Stadium in West Bengal at 5pm on Wednesday, December 11.
The hosts have logged one point from two games so far while TRAU went down by a solitary goal to champions Chennai City FC in the 13th I-League opener, which was also their debut in the league. Mohun Bagan went down 2-4 to the two-time champions Churchill Brothers in their last encounter.
The pressure was clearly evident in Mohun Bagan’s Spanish coach Kibu Vicuna’s pre-match comments, “After the last match, the team wants to play to get three points. We had 71% ball possession, 27 shots, 10 on target against Churchill but we conceded so much defensively. We need to improve and be more efficient in both 18 yards box. We respect the opponent, a new team with good players and a new coach and we need to play a complete match to succeed.”
For debutants TRAU, it will be their second straight game on the road and having to play their first two games against the defending champions and former champion Bagan means they have certainly had a baptism by fire to national football.
It might, in fact, turn out to be positive for them at the end of a long league but for that, they will have to pull up their socks if evidence from their first game is anything to go by.
Their Brazilian Technical Director Douglas de Silva was realistic in his comments ahead of the game. “All the matches of the Hero I-League will be difficult for us because we are new and our teams are young but they are confident enough to face everyone. It is a great opportunity to play in the I-League and not because we are playing against any particular team. We look at all teams the same way.”
The Kalyani pitch has been dishing out good games and much will depend on how Mohun Bagan’s Spanish midfielders and wingers can control the game from the outset and improve on execution, for the home team to come away victors.
The visitors will hope that Gurpreet continues to be rock-solid under the woodwork goal and their striking duo of Nigerian Princewell Emeka and Ghanian Abednego Tetteh will be able to deliver for them.