The former Black Panthers’ midfielder also feels that Mohun Bagan have the most balanced side in Group B.

Former Mohammedan Sporting Club midfielder Antoni Soren believes that Black Panthers can progress beyond the group phase at the upcoming 2019 Durand Cup.

Soren — who is best remembered for his memorable performance in the 2013 Durand Cup, as he scored in the finals and semifinals, playing a star role in leading Mohammedan Sporting to their first Durand Cup title after 73-years — feels current squad under Subrata Bhattacharya has the potential to advance beyond group stage.

“I am optimistic because Mohammedan Sporting always do well in cup competitions. They also have recorded positive results against teams like East Bengal and Mohun Bagan in recent years,” he indicated.

“Going into the 2013 Durand Cup nobody gave us a chance. We were a inexperience squad. Although there were players like Dipendu Biswas, Ashim Biswas, Tolgay Ozbay, Penn Orji and Luciano Sabrosa, most of the players were playing their first Durand Cup. This year Mohammedan Sporting have similar kind of squad dominated by youth with a exceptional leader like Subrata Bhattacharya, like the one we had in Moshood Bola Abdul Aziz. So I am hopeful for a good result.”

“Mohammedan Sporting should start Duand Cup with an intention to win the tournament. They have what it takes to win it in my view. They just have to come up with a good plan which they can break down into smaller objectives from the group stage to the knockout round. Players should be psychologically and mentally fit going into this tournament. That is very important if they want to advance to the knockout stages,” he explained.

Mohammedan Sporting were pooled alongside Mohun Bagan, Indian Navy and ATK in Group B which is widely considered to be the group of death as it features three Kolkata clubs, who will be playing in their home environment.

“It is a very interesting group with strong teams. Mohun Bagan is the most balanced side in the group, but we must not forget it will be season opener for them as well, and they will have to deal with nearly the same amount of pressure as Mohammedan Sporting do. I don’t know weather ATK will field their first-team or not, but one thing I can surely say that they will pose some serious treat to other teams.”

“There is also Navy and we should not forget about them. They cannot be underestimated. They should be respected as they are a good team,” he warned.

“So, I foresee Mohammedan Sporting reaching the knockout stage, but it won’t be easy because they are in a tough group,” he concluded.