Bagan favourites at home against Mumbai FC

September 26th, 2008 - 11:03 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, Sep 26 (IANS) Fame, form and a star-studded line-up make Mohun Bagan firm favourites as they clash with first timers Mumbai FC in their I-League opener at Barasat near here Saturday. Three-time champions Bagan, who played splendidly to annex the Calcutta Premier League title recently, have a fine combination of energetic greenhorns and seasoned footballers, and should not face much problem playing in home conditions against the visitors.

Apart from the redoubtable Brazilian Jose Ramirez Barreto and old warhorse Bhaichung Bhutia, the city giants have a clutch of Tata Football Academy cadets who gave a good account of themselves in the city league.

Coached by Karim Bencherifa, the green and maroon brigade have a good defence, but would miss the services of right-back Habibur Rahman, down with a thigh strain. Custodian Sangram Mukherjee is also ruled out with a sore knee, and Shilton Paul is likely to do duty under the bar.

With the dream combination of Barreto and Bhutia upfront, Bencharifa would be hoping for a good display from the likes of Ishfaq Ahmed and Shylo Malsawmtluanga to create the moves from the midfield.

Having last claimed top honours in the high-profile league seven years back, Bagan seem hungry to kickstart their campaign on a winning note at the Barasat Stadium Saturday.

“It’s imperative that we begin with a win Saturday and then make further planning,” said Bencherifa after the afternoon practice session.

The Mumbai club also have some renowned names on its roster, and the quality of Noel Wilson, Sanjay Parte, Jatin Singh Bisht and goalkeeper Kalyan Choubey could help them in throwing a challenge to the city outfit.

“I’m sure our players will adjust to the conditions in quick time. Plus, we have players in our squad who have had the experience of playing here,” said Mumbai FC’s British coach David Booth.

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