The hosts are looking forward to going back to the winning ways.
The 12th Hero I-League resumes on Friday, December 28, 2018, with two mouth-watering extravaganzas lined up, beginning with the NEROCA-Mohun Bagan clash at Imphal’s Khuman Lampak Stadium. This game is slated for a 2 PM kick-off.
Hosts NEROCA are sitting fourth on the league table with 15 points from nine games. They are one rung above their Friday visitors, who have the same number of points from an equal number of games, but NEROCA have the better goal difference.
A win on Friday will take either of the teams equal on points with current league leaders Chennai City FC, although that might change depending on the result of the day’s second game between Quess East Bengal (QEB) and Real Kashmir FC, which will follow the game in Imphal.
NEROCA, coached by Spaniard Manuel Fraile, are coming off a keenly contested goalless draw in their previous game against champions Minerva Punjab, but have been in good form, winning three on the trot before that.
Mohun Bagan, on the other hand, have bounced back admirably after their derby loss against arch-rivals East Bengal, with two wins in their last two games and it all adds up to a delicious contest.
The home side will be again looking for inspiration from their talismanic winger Yusa Katsumi. The Japanese has been instrumental in changing the fortunes of the Manipur side since coming back from injury. Their Nigerian striker Felix Chidi has also scored four times in the league till now and will look to prise open the Mohun Bagan defence on Friday.
The Green and Maroons’ two front men, Cameroonian Aiser Dipanda Dicka and Ugandan Henry Kisekka, have also scored four and three goals respectively, in the campaign and the Kolkata side will again look to them for succor.
Bagan coach Sankarlal Chakraborty will, however, know that NEROCA has the tighter defence of the two sides, having conceded seven to Mohun Bagan’s 10 so far, and will want to guard against that, given NEROCA’s fluent attacking line-up.
All in all, it will be a battle of attrition between two equally-matched teams in good enough form, and it will be interesting to watch who blinks first.
The hosts do not have any major injury concerns at the moment and are raring to go into the game.
The Mariners will be missing out on ace forward Sony Norde and youngster Pintu Mahata once again. Both of the forwards did not travel to Imphal with the squad. On the other hand, veteran goalkeeper Shilton Paul has travelled with the squad and could be starting against NEROCA on Friday afternoon.
NEROCA FC– Thapa (GK), Eduardo, Kallon, Ashok, Katsumi, Chidi, Subash, Malemnganba, Sebastian, Thangjam, Aryn
Mohun Bagan– Shilton (GK), Kingsley, Yuta, Sourav, Dicka, Kisekka, Bagui, Ambekar, Kimkima, Omar, Azharuddin
The game kicks off at 2 PM IST on Friday at Khuman Lampak Stadium in Imphal. The game will be telecasted live on Star Sports 3 and can also be streamed on Hotstar and Jio TV.