Smarting from the current defeat to arch-rivals East Bengal, Mohun Bagan Tremendous Large will change their focus from home to worldwide competitors as they face an in-form Machhindra FC of Nepal within the AFC Cup in Kolkata on Wednesday. Up in opposition to an in-form opponent within the preliminary spherical two conflict, there can be no margin for error for the Juan Ferrando-coached aspect, which is seeking to overcome their its first derby defeat in nearly 5 years. The reigning Indian Tremendous League champions misplaced 0-1 to conventional foes East Bengal within the Durand Cup three days in the past.
Being a knockout spherical, the Mariners, who’ve been Inter-Zone semifinalists for the previous two seasons, can not afford to lose.
A victory will seal their place within the south zone playoff the place they’ll face the winners of the match between Abahani Restricted of Bangladesh and Maldives’ Membership Eagles, additionally slated for Wednesday.
Ought to they win in opposition to the Nepalese outfit, Mohun Bagan may also get to play at dwelling within the subsequent spherical, of their bid to make the continental showpiece’s major spherical.
Nonetheless, the Mariners didn’t have an ideal build-up to the AFC Cup after seeing their eight-match successful streak in opposition to East Bengal coming to an finish final Saturday.
If that is not sufficient, Mohun Bagan are additionally competing within the native league (Calcutta Soccer League Premier Division), albeit with their youth aspect with a match slated on Tuesday, that means the membership is enjoying in three competitions concurrently.
Requested whether or not he is proud of the build-up to the AFC Cup, coach Ferrando mentioned: “It isn’t in our fingers. We’ll attempt to discover the very best lineup.” For lengthy, Mohun Bagan have been dwelling underneath the load of getting by no means received the continental match, not like their arch-rivals East Bengal, the champions of the 2003 ASEAN Cup Championship.
Having misplaced back-to-back semifinals within the final two seasons, the Sanjiv Goenka-owned aspect have been aggressive within the switch market, assembling a high-profile squad.
They not solely have the crème de la crème of Indian soccer of their ranks, however additionally they have a star-studded foreigners’ lineup of their roster.
Mohun Bagan even have introduced again ISL’s most profitable coach Antonio Lopez Habas as a technical director of the aspect.
“He (Sanjiv Goenka) needs to win each trophy, that is regular being a staff proprietor,” Ferrando mentioned of the strain of expectations within the pre-match media interplay.
He was fast to level out that being a brand new aspect with high-profile gamers like Jason Cummings, who performed in opposition to Lionel Messi within the 2022 World Cup, and Armando Sadiku, will want time to adapt.
The Asian Soccer Federation permits six foreigners (5 gamers from any nationality plus one from an AFC member affiliation) within the enjoying XI, one thing that will show to be a bonus for Mohun Bagan with so many high-profile foreigners.
However Ferrando mentioned he’ll put ahead the very best lineup based mostly on their type, be it a foreigner or home participant.
“If Kiyan Nassiri appears in higher form than Dimitri Petratos he’ll play, similar goes for defenders Anwar Ali and Brendal Hamill,” the Spaniard mentioned.
As for the Kathmandu outfit, on type they’re forward having secured their first-ever win within the match, after they overcame Paro FC within the earlier spherical.
The Kishore Kumar-coached aspect could have their hopes pinned on striker Afeez Olawale Oladipo and midfielder Andres Nia Tchounkeu whereas ahead Bimal Gharti Magar can be eager to make a mark in opposition to his former membership.
“They (Mohun Bagan) could also be coming after a loss however we will not take it simple. They’re a very good attacking aspect who play with a 4-3-2-1 formation. We should make our defence sturdy and create possibilities,” the coach mentioned.