Defending I-League champions Mohun Bagan will looking to keep their undefeated record in the league this season intact Saturday as they take on Salgaocar at the Tilak Maidan in Vasco.
The Kolkata giants are coming into the game in the backdrop of a stunning 5-2 victory against Maziya in their AFC Cup 2016 opener just three days ago in Guwahati. Jeje Lalpekhlua and Cornell Glen struck twice each in the game while Sony Norde scored the remaining goal.
The trio is looking as lethal as anything this season, and the contribution of Yusa Katsumi has also been key for Mohun Bagan so far this season.
Bagan are currently atop the I-League table with 18 points — five wins and three draws from eight games — and they are also on the top in the goalscoring charts among the nine I-League sides so far.
Salgaocar have a mountain to climb if they want to get past Mohun Bagan. The Goan side are rock bottom in the table at the moment, having recorded just a single win from eight games. "We have great respect for Mohun Bagan, who are doing well in the AFC Cup and the Hero I-League," Salgaocar coach Santosh Kashyap was quoted by i-league.org as saying ahead of the game. "I think they are a well-settled team over last two seasons under the same coach and with almost the same set of players."
Kashyap is an experienced customer, having seen it all in the I-League. The one ray of positivity Salgaocar have right now is Scottish striker Darryl Duffy, who has scored eight goals from eight games and is looking menacing.
"My style is attacking football and every game is do-or-die for us unless we escape relegation. I am confident that with every practice session, we are improving as individuals and as a team," Kashyap told Goal.
Mohun Bagan, meanwhile, will be expected to hand a start to Sanjay Balmuchu in the heart of the defence alongside Kinshuk Debnath; the duo of Luciano Sobrosa and Pronay Halder are suspended. Brandon Fernandes is also expected to start.
While Bagan head coach Sanjoy Sen recovers from illness, assistant coach Shankarlal Chakraborty once again took control of the pre-match press conference for the defending I-League champions and said despite their rigorous schedule this season, the Mariners are prepared.
"A few months ago, we had a meeting in Mohun Bagan club and we asked the players where we should prioritise between AFC Cup and Hero I-League? They said: Both," Chakraborty explained. "It is really tough to play in such a rigorous schedule, but the players know how to handle the pressure and have shown tremendous character till now."
Where to watch live
Salgaocar FC vs Mohun Bagan is scheduled to kick-off at 4:30 p.m. IST (4 p.m. Pakistan time, 11 a.m. GMT), Feb. 27.
In India (and the rest of the Asian subcontinent), viewers can catch the game on Ten Action. Online streaming will be available on tensports.com.
Viewers in Germany, Austria, Russia, Switzerland and Gerogia can catch up with the game with online streaming will be available on LAOLA1.
Other countries can follow the I-League live scores on the I-League Twitter handle.