The Black Panthers are in the 10th position of the table.
I-League leaders Sreenidi Deccan’s title hunt has taken them to Kolkata as they are set to face Mohammedan Sporting at the Kishore Bharati Krirangan on Friday, February 24, 2023, at 4:30 pm IST.
The hosts underwent a change at the helm as Spaniard Kibu Vicuna was replaced by former Real Kashmir head coach Mehrajuddin Wadoo on Wednesday. Currently placed 10th and five points above Mumbai Kenkre in the relegation zone, a win will give the Black and White Brigade significant breathing room in the relegation battle.
However, Wadoo’s first test could not have been tougher – up against a red-hot Sreenidi Deccan side currently on a five-game winning streak. To add to their difficulties, Mohammedan will be without their captain Marcus Joseph, who is suspended for the game after accumulating four yellow cards. Late goals have been a theme in Mohammedan’s last three games. They conceded in the 86th minute against Real Kashmir last Saturday to lose 2-3. Earlier this month, they lost to a 94th-minute goal from Churchill Brothers. Conversely, the Black and White Brigade scored a 93rd-minute winner against Gokulam Kerala in their previous home game.
Addressing the media at the pre-match press conference, Wadoo talked about his challenge of taking over as the head coach of Mohammedan Sporting during the season’s final stage. “It is never easy when you come in at this stage of the season. The boys have shown positive energy and attitude in the training and it has helped me. The mood in the dressing room is good and as a coach, it is an important thing for me and hopefully, we’ll carry this positive momentum into our game tomorrow and get a positive result.”
The former India international obviously expects a difficult encounter tomorrow. “For sure, it’s not an easy one as we will be facing the league leaders, but at the same time it is our home game and given our situation, we cannot afford to lose.”
Running neck-to-neck with title rivals RoundGlass Punjab at the helm of the standings, Sreenidi Deccan also cannot afford any errors on Friday. Their last I-League meeting with Mohammedan resulted in a thrilling 4-3 success for the Deccan Warriors, where they came from two goals down to bag all three points in Hyderabad. However, the scenario will be quite different this time around, with Mohammedan having changed coaches twice since that encounter back in December.
“There has been a coaching change for Mohammedan so we expect a different team,” said Sreenidi Deccan head coach Carlos Vaz Pinto. “The players are the same and we know Marcus (Joseph) cannot play, but still they are a good side. We know the coach’s style of play from Kashmir, and it will be a tough game but we will go for the three points.”
While Sreenidi have been in scintillating form at home, they have relatively struggled on the road, losing on two of their last three trips (1-2 to Mumbai Kenkre and 0-1 to Rajasthan United).
Talking about the hurdles of facing teams away from home, Pinto said, “We have different plans for home and away games. We know how to defend and create goal-scoring chances against Mohammedan. I cannot say exactly how, but we have a plan,” assured the Portuguese.
The I-League 2022-23 match between Mohammedan Sporting and Sreenidi Deccan will be telecast live on Eurosport and Doordarshan Sports and streamed live on the Discovery Plus OTT platform at 4:30 pm IST.
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