The Black Pantherns face Mohun Bagan in the tournament opener on Friday evening.

Mohammedan Sporting Club knows well what awaits them against Mohun Bagan when they cross swords in the 2019 Durand Cup opener on Friday (August 2, 2019) at Vivekananda Yubabharati Krirangan, kick-off 6 PM.

The Black Panthers gaffer Subrata Bhattacharya has steadfastly refused to set targets at the competition but revealed that the potentially explosive clash against Mohun Bagan would be crucial for his charges if they are to make an early statement at world’s third oldest football tournament.

“We have assembled a good team for the tournament. Matches will say whether we could achieve our ambitions or not. We need to have a positive start. The first match is always very important because it will give us confidence to head into the rest of the tournament. We might lack the needed experience in this team, but we have players who believe in themselves and have passion and motivation to achieve some good results. This is a side that can match any side in this tournament,” Bhattacharya told Mohammedan Media on the eve of the clash.

“I think we are well prepared and the atmosphere is positive and players want to give their best. For us the philosophy remains to live a day at a time.” he added.

Newly appointed Black Panthers skipper Kamran Farooque also sound confident: “There are many good players in our team and they have a great potential. We hope they can help us to achieve positive results. We will play against a quality Mohun Bagan team and we need to focus on the duties our coach give us, either in attacking or defending situations.”

This is the perfect test for Mohammedan Sporting to see how far they really are in terms of competing against Kolkata’s biggest giants. For years, Mohammedan Sporting have usually done well against the stronger sides they have come up against, struggling to beat the lesser teams on the city.

Mohammedan Sporting appear to lack potency in attack so they are unlikely to want to get into an open match against an Mohun Bagan team that has dangerous attacking flair with the likes of Salvador Chamorro in their ranks.

Bhattacharya is likely to stick with his cautious approach, being the underdog in this game, although playing on the counter-attack could benefit Black Panthers. Mohammedan Sporting will look to dominate possession and move quickly in the offensive third.

Desmos Athur Kouassi, who banged six goals in seven apperances at 2nd Division League last season, is expected to lead the front-line. The Ivoirian is a crafty dribbler with a high work-rate and is nearly as good at creating chances as he is at scoring, and will have something to fear as the lanky forward can spark a moment of magic out of nowhere.

Squad

GOALKEEPERS: Moniruzzaman Ansari, Subham Roy, Subhranil Bose.

DEFENDERS: Asif Ali Molla, Kamran Farooque, Kareem Omolaja Nurain, Sujit Sadhu, Balwinder Singh, Hira Mondal.

MIDFIELDERS: Tirthankar Sarkar, Satyam Sharma, Musa Mudde, Safiul Rahman, Indrajit Das, Firoj Ali, Vanlalbiaa Chhangte, Sovan Sen, Prosenjit Chakraborty.

FORWARDS: Samsad Ali, Mohammad Amirul, Amir Hossain, Desmos Arthur Kouassi.