I League 2018-19: Can Mohun Bagan cope without Sony Norde vs East Bengal in Kolkata Derby?
The Mohun Bagan camp seems to be in some sort of discomfort just a day before the high-voltage clash with East Bengal as their marquee player Sony Norde is set to miss the Kolkata Derby on Sunday, December 16, owing to an injury. Bagan coach Shankarlal Chakraborty confirmed that Norde is out during the pre-match press conference on Saturday.
Without his services, it will be an uphill task for the ‘Mariners’ in the upcoming Kolkata Derby, but they should not be crestfallen because they have overcome similar conditions before. Norde was not part the last I-League clash between the Kolkata giants, but the team played exceptionally well, winning the game by a 2-0 margin. Chakraborty feels that they have an equally good chance of winning the game even without the services of the Haitian.
“Sony is a fantastic player. But without him, we’ve won matches as well. The way we’ve handled the team, even Pintu Mahata gets the same respect as Sony. But in terms of quality, Sony is an incredible player. Not only him, but Pintu and Sukhdev are also big losses,” Chakraborty said.
As we approach the first Kolkata Derby of the season, both the teams find themselves in a situation where a win is the only option. They are locked on nine points in six matches and the three points will help them move up the standings. Chakraborty doesn’t feel that this will be a factor in the upcoming match.
“I don’t think the positions of both teams reflect the situation of Bengal football now. In terms of performance, we could’ve improved even more. But somehow, that hasn’t clicked yet. We should’ve upped our performance. I hope we can turn it up a gear tomorrow,” the coach said.
So what exactly Bagan should do to beat East Bengal?
Norde's presence cannot be underestimated. The flair he brings along with him gives the opposition defenders a hard time. Whenever Norde is on the pitch for MB, there's always a threat lurking behind and when it comes to East Bengal, this danger is more. Who can forget the goal Norde scored against EB in Siliguri in April 2017, sparking a win for the years for Mohun Bagan?
Unfortunately, Mohun Bagan has to cope without Sony Norde in this weekend’s tie and they surely can manage a win over East Bengal if they get their attack sorted.
The Bagan front line is their biggest strength and even East Bengal’s Spanish coach Alejandro Menendez pointed out that they have to be wary of it. “All that we know is that the attacking part of Mohun Bagan is their strong part. So we have to be respectful of that,” the Spaniard said before the game.
Even without Norde, Bagan still have a pretty strong foreign contingent at their disposal. In the last season, Dicka scored a brace in the 2-0 win, while stopper Kingsley scored the winner in the first-leg clash. Both of them will anyway be playing on Sunday.
On the other hand, winger Sk Faiaz will be playing his first match this season for the ‘Green and Maroon’ brigade. Henry Kisekka is an equally experienced player and has a good understanding with Dipanda Dicka in the attacking half.
Meanwhile, Yuta Kinowaki and Omar Hussieny have also been playing their part pretty well. It is time that these players should rise to the occasion. This is a match where a good performance can set the tone for the rest of the season for Bagan.
Let's see if Norde will be sorely missed.