By Debabrata Majumder
CHANDIGARH: Mohammedan Sporting Club will look to continue their winning run in the I-League 2nd Division when they face Minerva Academy FC tomorrow in an Final Round fixture at the Sector 17 Football Ground in Chandigarh.
Playing their first away game of the campaign, Mohammedan SC (7 pts) will be eager to close the gap between themselves and leaders Dempo SC (13 pts) and a win on the morrow would turn out to be very crucial for the visitors as the league is heading towards it’s business end. Similarly, Minerva (11 pts) who are on second position will also hoping for a positive result which will take them to 14.
The final round campaign did not started well for Mohammedan SC, at one stage they were looking down and out without a single point from their first two outings but the Subrata Bhattacharya (Jr.) coached side made a tremendous recovery since then collecting seven points from next three games where they have conceded only one goal, that also from penalty.
Mohammedan SC, who beat Neroca FC 2-0 last weekend, will be facing Minerva exactly after a month from their first-leg encounter at Barasat and the Black Panthers will be looking to set the record straight on Minerva having suffered 1-2 defeat that afternoon.
“We had a good game against Neroca last week. Despite missing a few key players, we played according to our plan with players complimenting each other, which is a very good sign going into an away game,” coach Bhattachaya said on the eve of the clash.
Seeing James Moga and Ajay Singh looking sharp in front of goal will please cocah Bhattacharya ahead of the high voltage clash, but the defense led by Ivorian Lancine Toure is the greatest strength for Mohammedan SC so far in the competition.
Minerva, on the other hand, enjoying a winning streak of their own having logged successive home wins over Lonestar Kashmir FC and Gangtok Himalayan SC will look forward to extend it further and the Punjab outfit have enough potential in their side for doing the same.
Going into the match Minerva coach Surinder Singh will rely on team’s top scorer Sehijpal Singh to break the rival defense, who has already done it once a month ago. Nigerian Bala Alhassan Dahir is expected to marshall the midfield while Kareem Omolaja Nurain will be leading the back-line.
“Minerva is not an easy team to play especially in their home ground but players are up for the challenge. We did have a commendable performances in last two games, but that is past and I don’t want the players to get complacent. We are not thinking too far ahead and only concentrating on the task at hand.” coach Bhattachaya added.
On the team news front, Mohammedan SC will boosted by the return Toure and Nagen Tamang who are back after serving a one match suspension for two yellow cards. However, Mohammedan SC will miss the services of Imran Khan as he picked up viral fever while Manish Maithani is still unavailable for selection.
The game at Chandigarh kicks-off at 4.00 pm on Thursday (May 5, 2016).