The majestic Salt Lake Stadium is all set to host the first match of the prestigious Durand Cup this season. Two of India’s oldest football clubs, Mohun Bagan and Mohammedan Sporting Club will lock horns in the curtain-raiser of the tournament on Friday evening. The 129th edition of the Cup will get a major facelift, with 16 teams participating in the meet, which includes 5 Indian Super League clubs, 6 I-League clubs, 1 I-League 2nd division club and the four teams from the Army.
Even though Mohun Bagan won the Calcutta Football League last season, they had a dismal outing in the I-League having finished at the fifth position in the standings. Having dismantled the entire squad, the management has revamped it with substantial additions to form a versatile unit. Spanish gaffer Kibu Vicuna will be making his debut as the head coach for ‘The Mariners’ in the upcoming match.
Apart from the technical setup, Mohun Bagan has recruited four Spaniards for the new season. Salva Chamorro will spearhead the forward line, Francisco Gonzalez and Joseba Beitia will be in charge of the midfield, while defender Fran Morante will hold the backline.
The Indian contingent is also quite strong with the likes of Sheikh Faiaz, Arijit Bagui, Shilton Paul and Ashutosh Mehta in the squad.
MOHAMMEDAN SPORTING CLUB
On the other hand, Mohammedan Sporting Club is managed by one of India’s most renowned coaches, Subrata Bhattacharya. After failing to break into the I-League last season, the club bosses vested the responsibility of the team to the tactical genius. The ‘Black Panthers’ have already secured the services of Ugandan playmaker Mussa Mudde, Nigerian stopper Karim Omolaja Nurain, and the Ivorian duo of Charles Atcha and Arthur Kouassi in the striking zone.
The presence of experienced Tirthankar Sarkar in the squad will make it more balanced, while the other Indian players are relatively young. Nevertheless, Kolkata Maidan’s ‘Bablu Da’ is known for pulling off upsets in the past, so it will be a hard nut to crack for Mohun Bagan. Playing as the underdogs will also bring out the best in the players, which will make it an eye-catching contest.
Salva Chamorro (Mohun Bagan)
All eyes will be on Spanish striker Salvo Chamorro in his first match for Mohun Bagan. The former Barcelona B player is an expirinced campaigner and has played a great deal in Europe. Only time will tell whether he can produce something special for his new club. He has scored a few goals in the pre-season also.
Musa Mudde (Mohammedan Sporting Club)
The Defensinve midfielder has been around the Indian football circuit for the past two years, having played for Gokulam Kerala FC in 2017-18. After a short stint with Sports Academy Tirur, the Ugandan International is up for a new challenge in the 'football crazy' city. He will play a responsible role for his team in the upcoming tournament.
DURAND CUP RECORD
Mohun Bagan is the most successful team in the history of the Durand Cup along with arch-rivals East Bengal. Both the clubs have won 16 titles each. The last time the ‘green and maroon’ brigade won the trophy was back in 2000. It will be a great opportunity for the Kolkata giants to win the coveted trophy after 18 long years and also clinch it for a record 17th time.
Mohammedan Sporting Club was the first Indian club to win the Durand Cup, back in 1940, following which, they won just once, back in 2013. That was also the last time a club from Kolkata won the Cup.
Mohun Bagan vs Mohammedan Sporting Club
Date: 2 August 2019
Kick-off: 6:00 PM IST
Live Stream: Addatimes App, DD Sports may telecast, although there is no official confirmation
Venue: Salt Lake Stadium, Kolkata
On paper, Mohun Bagan has an edge over their opposition. But since it is the opening match of the season, they cannot take things for granted. It will be a tricky test for Kibu’s men against Subrata’s jubilant squad.
Predicted Score: Mohun Bagan 2-1 Mohammedan Sporting ClubPublished 31 Jul 2019, 11:53 IST