Kolkata: Twenty-time champions Mohun Bagan
will take on United SC in an all-Kolkata semifinal affair in
the 114th IFA Shield at Yuba Bharati Krirangan (YBK) here
The Kolkata giants managed to sneak into the semi-final
after a patchy display against defending champions Mahindra
United settling for a 1-1 draw in their Group C match.
In fact, had it not for their goalkeeper Shilton Paul`s
brilliant saves in the second-half, Bagan would have made an
exit, similar to their arch-rivals East Bengal.
But their Moroccan coach Karim Bencherifa is counting
only on the positives.
"We have started in a brilliant fashion (thrashing George
Telegraph 4-0). In our last match, Shilton (Paul) was
exceptional. I am very impressed with his performance,"
On their opponents United SC, Bencherifa said much would
depend on the players adaptibility on the artificial turf.
"It will be a 50-50 chance for both the sides. A team
that will play well will make the final. They have an
experienced line-up in Sandeep Nandy, Lal Kamal Bhowmick and
Edu (Eduardo Chacon Coelho Lacerda). It will be a good
competition," he added.
Asked about their poor second-half display against
Mahindra United en route to grab a last-minute semi berth,
Bencherifa said, "Mahindra United have got depth in their
line-up and it`s not an easy task to hold them."
In fact, a semifinal clash between arch-rivals Mohun
Bagan and East Bengal was on the expected line but a
disastrous show by the red and gold brigade saw Subrata
Bhattacharya coached United SC maing the last-four.
Bhattacharya`s boys, however, will miss the services of
their medio Shylo Malswam Tulunga alias Mama who is down with
In Mama`s absence, added responsibility will be on the
trio of Lal Kamal, Jayanta Sen and Gouranga Biswas in the
For Bhattacharya, the main concern is not how their
players perform on the day, but the "shrewd tactics" that
Bagan use to their advantage.
"Mostly, Mohun Bagan use tactics and manage the referee
in some unfair play, something that is a cause of concern. But
I am confident on my boys," Bhattacharya said.
Heavyweights Churchill Brothers had some anxious moments
in their penatly win over Air India in the first semi-final on
the astro-turf today.
It remains to be seen how the Kolkata giants Mohun Bagan
cope on the artificial YBK turf to tackle United SC.