Colombo: Sanjoy Sen’s Mohun Bagan is all set to begin their AFC Cup journey in the play-off against Sri Lankan Champions Colombo Football Club on Wednesday.
The Mariners have trained at the Race Course Ground, Colombo this morning without their two foreigners Sony Norde and Eduardo Ferreira who got rested because of injuries and didn’t fly with the squad.
Mohun Bagan’s opposition Colombo Football Club is a professional football club which plays in the Premier Division, the top flight of Sri Lankan football. They are the Current Sri Lanka Premier League Champions as well and won the FA Cup Championship defeating Blue Star SC 1–0 in the final on July 4, 2015 at the Sugathadasa Stadium. Currently remaining on the top of 2016/17 in the Sri Lanka Premier League.
The first leg of their AFC Cup qualifier against the Indian giants will be worked off at the Race Course International Stadium tomorrow at local time 3:30pm and Mohun Bagan gaffer might give an opportunity to their former captain of the I-League winning squad Shilton Paul between the sticks. In the pre-match press conference Shilton said, “We should respect the opponent and need to play our natural game. Playing against a side for the first time is always a challenge as you do not know what to expect. We are eager to perform and wish to take all three points from this match”.
Coach Sanjoy Sen too seemed positive ahead of the new mission as he said, “We are facing an opponent which is unknown to us and we will have to start on a positive note for tomorrow’s game. We just need to follow the basics and concentrate on our game and display good football to achieve three points”. He added, “Playing against a team on their home soil will be difficult,they will come all out to perform better and show their skill on an elite tournament like AFC Cup.”
Since the Super 8 stage resumed on the 6th of January, Colombo FC is a rejuvenated team, racking up some impressive results on the way. Key for Colombo FC has been the form of their leaders on the pitch and Momas Yapo, Zarwan Johar and Nagur Meera have been very impressive these past few weeks. Expect them to play a key role in the clash.
Colombo FC have brought it in some impressive players ahead of the two legged tie and two players nearly certain to be involved in the clash will be center-back Nasiru Opayemi and left back Chalana Chameera.
Both of them have been very impressive for their clubs and it’ll be interesting to see how they fit in with the likes of Mohamed Ramees and Afeel Mohamed in defence.
Amongst other players brought in Charitha Ratnayake and Dilan Kaushalya will provide reliable cover in defence whilst Ruwan Arunasiri will also likely be cover for Mohamed Imran in goal.
Further up the pitch new signing Mohamed Rifnaz is going to play a big role, being reunited with his former school mate Zarwan Johar. Veterans Mohamed Issadeen and E.B.Channa have also been brought in for the clash and the two experienced heads, though it is likely that only one of the pair may start.
Colombo FC coach Mohamed Roomy said, “This is a good opportunity for us to show our standard so we hope to play the tournament in good manner and give a good fight. We have a good mix of veterans and young players in the team and this will be a good opportunity for everyone. We are underdogs but we are determined to win this match.”
The captain of the home side Rawme Mohideen though giving a lot of respect to the Kolkata giant, as he said, ““Everyone knows Mohun Bagan and they are rated above us. We have been working a lot on our defensive work and fitness these few days. Our new signings Channa, Issadeen and Charith are experienced players and they will be important for us. The first leg is crucial because we will be playing at home, a 1-0 win is a minimum if we are to try and play for a draw in the second leg.”
Mohun Bagan will no doubt start as the outright favourites in this game, but the Sri Lankan champions are raring to through a tough challenge to the famous Indian club.