The home side are currently ranked eighth in the table, while the visitors are sixth.
In a battle, mainly for pride, two former champions Aizawl FC and Mohun Bagan, both of whom are not having the kind of campaign they would have hoped for, battle it out in a return leg 12th Hero I-League fixture at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium in Aizawl, on Saturday. The match kicks off at 2 pm IST.
Hosts Aizawl FC are seventh on the points table with 14 points from 15 games. The Mizoram team has now picked up five points since new coach Stanley Rosario took over and have a game in hand over their Saturday opponents Bagan.
Kolkata giants Mohun Bagan, on the other hand, are currently sixth after 16 games with 23 points and they will give it their all to finish as high up the table as possible in the closing stages of the league.
Aizawl though, go into the game as clear favourites. The first leg in Kolkata ended in a 2-2 draw, thanks to a brilliant freekick by David in added time and that was probably the game which started Bagan’s slide. Aizawl have also defeated Minerva Punjab FC in their previous match, which would boost their confidence, while Bagan have lost one and drawn two, going into Saturday’s game.
Bagan still look formidable though, what with an attack comprising of players like Cameroon striker Dipanda Dicka, who has scored seven goals already, and Ugandan forward Henry Kisekka, along with Haitian winger Sony Norde in the ranks.
Khalid Jamil was very clear about his ambitions from this year’s league campaign when he said in the pre-match press conference, “We are not thinking about the past. We are not taking tomorrow’s match lightly. We are trying to concentrate all through the 90 minutes. Aizwal’s management is good and they have good players. We must finish well, our target is to finish top four.”
The new coach is trying to build a fighting unit. He is known to be defensive in his approach. Mohun Bagan has been displaying a compact and tactical defence. The back-four comprising of Eze Kingsley, Gurtej Singh, Bikramjtit Singh, and Amey Ranawade have exhibited a valiant defensive show and have mostly been able to cut-off the supply balls.
Aizawl’s last game against Gokulam Kerala FC was postponed as Kerala were stuck in Kashmir due to heavy snowfall after their game against Real Kashmir FC. Aizawl, therefore, will be playing after a rest of 15 days on their home ground and that should be an advantage.
Stanley Rozario seemed to be trying to drive home that point in the pre-game presser commenting, “After I got the charge of the team, there were a few transformations and we had different results in the past three matches and they were all big matches.
“Tomorrow’s game is with a big team and we will try to give our best. The Mizo players are very talented. If they play well and as a team then definitely we can be in a better position,” he said. “The three points are very important for us tomorrow. Mohun Began has good players but they are also struggling for results. We have an upper hand since its a home match.”
They have had sparks in Mapuia and David, while foreigners Kromah, Dodoz and Jaryan have been at par, but somehow the team has not been able to gel well.
It is setup for an entertaining game of football, come Saturday in Aizawl.
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The hosts have three injured players, who are Vanlalthanga, Kareem Omolaja, and Albert Zohmingmawia.
The Bengal outfit goes into this match without any serious concerns.
Lalawmpuia (GK), Singh, Jaryan, Kasagga, Lalramhmunmawia, Issac, Lalrinchanna, Dodoz, Kromah, Vanlalduatsanga, Lalkhawpuimawia.
Pal (GK), Ranawade, Singh, Obumneme, Kumar, Elhussieny, Hossain, Ruidas, Norde, Dicka, Kisekka.
The match will kick-off at 2:00 PM, in the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium. It will be broadcasted live at Star Sports, and streamed via HotStar and Jio TV.