It will be a make or break time for defending champions Mohun Bagan when they face a buoyant DSK Shivajians in their penultimate round I-League fixture at the Vidyasagar Krirangan in Barasat here on Saturday.
Mohun Bagan last won against Mumbai FC on March 13 and since then they suffered defeats in the grudge match to East Bengal and qualifiers Aizawl FC to put them in a difficult situation.
To their advantage, Mohun Bagan will have the services of coach Sanjoy Sen who will be back in the touchline after serving a four-match ban, while their ace Haitian striker Sony Norde will also be seen in action if not from the start to revive their title hopes.
“Norde will be available and it’ all about winning tomorrow,” Sen said on in the pre-match news conference. He, however, made it clear that there was no question of underestimating his opponents, “I think Shivajians are one of the strongest teams in the I-League. They were brilliant against East Bengal and actually deserved to win against Bengaluru FC in their last match.”
Jeje Lalpekhlua and Cornell Glen will reprise their roles up front, with Katsumi Yusa looking to pull the strings from midfield. The Mariners are on top, tied with Bengaluru on 26 points, and they have played a game more.
A win is a must if they want to maintain the pressure on East Bengal and Bengaluru FC and remain in title race till they conclude their campaign against the Blues on April 24.
Derrick Pereira’s men are on a roll after being unbeaten in their last six matches, including two brilliant victories against Sporting Goa and East Bengal and a gallant display against Bengaluru FC in their last home fixture.
Pereira credited the performance to his players, including a switch in personnel.
“You can see how my players have stepped up to the mark and the performance is there for everyone to see,” he said. The return of Subrata Paul from injury and the addition of Sandesh Jhingan will be a big plus for the visitors who have 14 points from 13 matches to occupy sixth place.
Asier Dipanda Dica, who has already scored six goals, will be starting up front while Jhingan will continue at the heart of the defence. The addition of Baljit Sahni has also added an extra boost to the Shivajians attack while Douhou Pierre will look to dictate the game from midfield.