Beleagured Bagan bank on Odafa magic versus Dempo
Kolkata: Fighting to beat the drop, a beleaguered, Mohun Bagan side will be bolstered by the presence of their talismanic Nigerian striker Okolie Odafa in a crucial I-League encounter on Sunday.
Mohun Bagan are still at the bottom of the table and coach Karim Bencherifa, has every reason to feel edgy as his team failed to pick up full points in the previous home match against United Sikkim.
"We need a good win to get back on track," Bencherifa said about their 2-2 draw against Shillong Lajong who came back from behind to steal a point.
"Our foremost objective now is to save the relegation. We failed to win despite getting the lead twice in the last match (against Shillong Lajong FC). This spoke of a lack of concentration and the team needs to be more focussed in ensuring a victory," Bencherifa said.
About Bagan`s opponents, he answered, "Dempo are a tough side. But, I do not wish to look at the opponent, rather focus more on our own objective, which is to find as many wins as possible."
Mohun Bagan have 10 points from 17 matches and have a long way to go in order to loosen the noose of relegation.
United Sikkim FC (15 points) and Air India (19) are the two teams Mohun Bagan have to surpass first to dispel the relegation fears.
"I hope my players understand the situation and get organized more effectively," Bencherifa said adding that the team`s most prolific striker Odafa has recovered well and is available for selection.
Dempo have remained winless in the last five rounds where they lost three successive matches.
Coach Armando Colaco looked at this poor record and hoped for an early deliverance.
"We have definitely fallen back in the title race but we are hopeful of striking back and getting back our winning rhythm," said Colaco, who has guided Dempo to five national league titles.
The coach indicated that the likes of Mahesh Gawli and Ryuji Seuoka were doubtful starters for the match.
"It will be a very crucial match for us. Though there are injury problems to several of my players, we will try to put up a good challenge," Colaco said.
"I have asked my players to play their natural game and enjoy the match. I do not want to put them under undue pressure and I am hopeful of a win if they try to give their best. A team cannot be champion every year, but it is the sincere effort that matters most," Colaco said.
Assessing the unlikely situation of their opponents, Colaco said some wrong decisions put Mohun Bagan in the present crisis.
"Some officials made some wrong decisions and Mohun Bagan are suffering for that. They are not a team to fight relegation and have lot of stars in the side. We have to be extra cautious against them," he said.