Advantage Mohun Bagan in three-horse race for I-League title
Mohun Bagan sit pretty on top of the table, level on points with Bengaluru FC.
Kolkata: Tied in a three-horse title race with archrivals East Bengal and former champions Bengaluru FC, Mohun Bagan star striker Jeje Lalphekula on Friday said they cannot afford to slip up a bit if they desire to retain the I-League crown.
Despire their coach Sanjoy Sen being suspended by the AIFF, Mohun Bagan are primed to win the title for a second successive time and become the first team to finish their campaign unbeaten.
"We have lived up to the expectation till now but now it's about holding our nerves and finishing the job, we can't afford any slip now," Lalphekula said.
"The I-League is at a crucial juncture right now and whoever holds the nerves and execute their plans on the pitch will go to win it finally."
Mohun Bagan are on level with 2014-15 champions Bengaluru FC and have one match in hand as they also have the added advantage to conclude the I-League at home with two teams locking horns on April 24 in the potential title decider.
So far with six wins and four draws Mohun Bagan sit pretty on top of the table, level on points with Bengaluru FC.
Mohun Bagan have matches against Mumbai FC, derby against East Bengal, away fixture against Shillong Lajong FC, DSK Shivajians, Aizawl FC and Bengaluru FC in the last round.
Bengaluru coach Ashley Westwood and East Bengal's Biswajit Bhattacharya remained optitmistc and said all the three teams have 33 per cent of chances.
"We will approach the last five games as we approach every game, play to win. We know that if we win five out of five we will win the I-League as simple as that and chances wise of winning it is 33 per cent with East Bengal and Mohun Bagan anyone of us can win it", Westwood said.
East Bengal, on the other hand, will have to fight back from back-to-back defeats at the hands of Salgaocar FC and DSK Shivajians who are languishing at the bottom of the table.
The team is ahead of Sporting Clube De Goa by just three points with both teams scheduled to lock horns on April 16, in a clash that might just be a do-or-die affair for the Kolkata giants.
Talking about his team's chances ahead of five high-octane clashes, East Bengal coach Bhattacharya said, "All of a sudden we are going through a bad patch but I still have full faith in the team and believe that the team can turn it around quickly.
"Every match is important for us and the fact that each team is equally competent makes the I-League so unpredictable.
Of late, Salgaocar FC and DSK Shivajians have found their rhythm and believe me, they're here to give others a tough run for their money."
The next round of I-League fixtures will see East Bengal travel to Aizawl FC, whereas champions Mohun Bagan, fresh from their victory against South China, will host Mumbai FC.
Wishing luck to the three teams, I-League CEO Sunando Dhar said, "I-League already seen a nail-biting wind-up last season and the current season is no less enthralling. On behalf of AIFF, I would like to wish the teams all the very best for the remaining matches."