Mohun Bagan hope to bounce back against Chennai
Kolkata, Jan 1 (PTI) Former champions Mohun Bagan will look to return to winning ways when they face minnows Chennai City FC in an I-League football fixture at their home ground here tomorrow.
The Mariners dished out an insipid show to be held one- all by a 10-man Indian Arrows at Mohun Bagan ground in the last round.
It was for the first time an I-League match was held at the Kolkata Maidan but the green-and-maroon brigade failed to make it count against the Indian colts.
Mohun Bagan's last win a 5-0 demolition of Churchill Brothers had come on December 12. Since then they have failed to make the home games count, dropping points for a third time in a row to slip to fifth place in the standings.
Coach Sanjoy Sen has been in the line of fire and the latest draw did not go well at their home ground as supporters demanded his sacking shouting 'go back' slogans.
"It's natural. To draw thrice in a row is more shameful than a defeat. But we have no excuse," Sen said.
The Mariners have been plagued with injury woes after their big Churchill win at the artificial Barasat turf.
Star Haitian Sony Norde is yet to recover from a knee injury while Japanese midfielder Yuta Kinowaki has been ruled out after dislocating his collarbone.
Mohun Bagan fans would hope that Norde recovers to rescue the team's fortunes but Sen said they must not be over dependent on the Haitian who's likely to sit out again.
"We cannot be over-reliant on Sony. Sony-less Mohun Bagan have to learn to win. We have to get back among goals. In the last few matches, I have felt the boys have been under pressure after conceding," he said.
"Our players have missed from handshaking distance which is poor. We have been trying hard at practice and players have shot in front of empty net also to get back confidence," Sen said today at the match-eve news conference.
East Bengal had defeated Chennai 1-2 at the latter's home venue in the last round and the Sen-coached side would see this as their last chance to return to winning ways.
Chennai have a solitary win and lost four times to be on the eighth place in the table.
Chennai City too are guilty of letting in soft goals and that is one aspect they will certainly look to improve upon against Mohun Bagan.
Terming it as one of the "greatest challenges", Chennai coach Soundrarajan said: "We are happy to play against Mohun Bagan in their own ground.
"They are 100 years old, we are two years old. So it's a great opportunity. The spectators will be the biggest challenge as they are huge. We will take up the challenge."
Asked if Norde's absence would help Chennai, the coach said: "Apart from him, they have good players and good organisation. If you put any other player, they are as tough as Norde."
Chennai's defence will also get a big boost with the inclusion of a fit-again Kyrgyzstani defender Venyamin Shumeyko.
Match starts at 1730