Mohun Bagan unhappy with Ambedkar Stadium turf

April 14th, 2009 - 10:07 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, April 14 (IANS) Mohun Bagan, in hot pursuit of a record fourth I-League title, were an unhappy lot seeing the turf at the Ambedkar Stadium where they play Mahindra United in the last round of the championship Thursday.
After a rigorous practice session here Tuesday afternoon, coach Karim Bencherifa and star player Jose Ramires Barreto clearly looked unhappy with the poor underfoot condition.

Mohun Bagan need an outright win and even then they can only hope to claim the title if leaders Churchill Brothers lose at home to Mohammedan Sporting. Mohun Bagan’s away tie was shifted to Delhi due to elections in Mumbai.

Both Mohun Bagan and Churchill Brothers are tied on 43 points, but the latter have a better goal difference and a draw will be enough for the Goan club to become champions for the first time.

After the training session, both Bencherifa and Barreto were disappointed with the ground which the national coach Bob Houghton rated as the best in the country.

“A pity that we have to play on this ground, which is rock hard,” said Mohun Bagan’s Moroccan coach.

Barreto, a Brazilian, said it would be difficult for the players to control the ball on the hard turf.

“Since the turf is very hard, there is a lot of bounce and it will be difficult for us to control the ball. A pity that this is virtually a final for us and we are playing on such a ground while Churchill will be playing on an excellent ground in Margao for the title,” said Barreto.

But ground is not the only problem for Mohun Bagan. The Kolkata team will also be missing its four key players — midfielders Lalkamal Bhowmick, Rakesh Masih, Brazilian Marcos Pereira and defender N.S. Manju for double bookings.

“These players have made the season for us. There are a few options available for us and I would like to wait till the afternoon of the match before finlaising my strategy,” said Bencherifa.

Asked if his players would be under pressure to know the outcome of the Churchill-Mohammedan Sporting match, Bencherifa said: “I don’t think that will be a concern. For us, this is the final and we will have to win and see what happens.”

Bencherifa, who can take some credit for Churchill’s success as he was their coach before moving to Kolkata, said: “I am the winner whichever team wins, but I will be the real winner if Mohun Bagan triumphs.”

– Indo-Asian News Service


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