Kolkata: Although he is not expected to start against Aizawl FC on Saturday, fit-again Sony Norde said he is ready to shine again for Mohun Bagan in the I-League but has to prove himself in a squad brimming with talent.
Norde, who was a vital cog in the team’s I-League triumph in 2015, completed the signing formalities this morning and will be back in the reckoning after an injury-laden last season.
Norde returns to Bagan after 10 months following his exit midway through the I-League 2017/18 season due to a knee injury. He had played just four matches in the I-League last season.
The Haitian had suffered the injury during Bagan’s third match in the I-League against Churchill Brothers which the club had won 5-0 at the Barasat stadium.
The injury was aggravated when he came out to play against Neroca F.C within nine days after the Churchill match. Norde finally returned to his country in January this year to undergo a surgery.
Mohun Bagan coach Sankarlal Chakraborty hinted at the pre-match press conference that Norde is still not match fit, but the star Haitian attacker said he is raring to go and can play 120 minutes of football if given a chance.
“It takes time to regain match fitness after a nine-month break. We will take a call on whether to start with him tomorrow,” coach Chakraborty said.
Asked about his fitness Norde sounded confident. It’s good to be back. I will be playing for the recently crowned Calcutta Football League champions and that’s a proud feeling. I am ready to start and give my best for the team,” Norde told reporters.
Norde played for about an hour in a practice match against Kalighat on Thursday. Along with Dipanda Dicka and Henry Kisekka, Norde is expected to form a formidable attacking line-up for the green and maroon brigade.
“It’s up to the coach (when to start him). I am ready to play 90 minutes, also 120 minutes.
“Dicka and Henry are quality players and everybody knows that. I want to help them win matches for the team,” said Norde who will be wearing jersey no. 50 this time.
Last season, Norde played a handful of games before getting injured wearing jersey no 10. “I wanted to change the number because I did not get a lot of success last season wearing 10. I won the I-League wearing 16.”
Norde is only the second foreigner after Jose Ramirez Barreto to sign for Mohun Bagan for a fifth straight year.
“I am happy to play here and it feels great to be back. I want to help the team in every game but for that I have to prove myself too. There are a lot of good players in the team and the squad is very talented. It’s not only me or Henry or Dicka,” Norde added.
Chakraborty, meanwhile, said that Aizawl have a strong attacking line and they need to be on their toes to win. “Aizawl have a very good forward line. They are very strong and are tough opponents. Last season, we dropped points at home too so home advantage means little.”
Mohun Bagan will be without the services of injured defender Sukhdev Singh, midfielder Tirthankar Sarkar and attacker Jiten Murmu.
Aizawl coach Gift Raikhan, who did an exceptional job with debutants Neroca FC in the last season, guiding them to a second spot finish, complained of tight scheduling as they have to also play games in the Mizoram Premier League back home.
“It’s like I am driving two cars at the same time. It’s not easy but we are trying. Mohun Bagan are a tough side we all know that. We have good players too and I am confident they will put their best foot forward tomorrow.”