Mohun Bagan will have a golden chance to book a spot into the main events of AFC Cup when they try to maintain their advantage over depleted Colombo FC in the return leg of the qualifier on Tuesday.
Bagan have a very good chance of making it to the next round as they have a one-goal advantage as well as two away goals to their name. The away-goals rule has always been a tricky customer as it takes just two goals for Colombo to turn it other way around. Hence, the Mariners shall ideally target a victory against the Sri Lankan’s.
The Green and Maroon Brigade would be pegged back by injuries to as many as five frontline players, but the return of talisman Sony Norde would be a big boost for Sanjoy Sen’s side. He may choose to rest captain Katsumi Yusa in order to give a start to the Haitian. The winger should be given some match time as this continental game is to be followed by the ever-challenging Kolkata Derby against bitter-rivals East Bengal on 12th February.
First choice goalkeeper Debjit Majumder will be rested and old war-horse Shilton Pal is expected to replace him under the bars. Due to absence of compulsion to field any U-22 player, young Subhashis Bose is expected to give away his place to Shouvik Ghosh.
However, Azharuddin Mallick and Raynier Fernandes may have to wait for their turns as Jeje Lalkheplua and Darryl Duffy are expected to hold their place in the starting line-up. The young lads can only be given a chance if Bagan create a substantial lead within first half.
On the other hand, continental cup debutantes Colombo FC have a tough task on hand given they are new to the AFC Cup qualifiers and are playing against a much more well-equipped opponents. The denial of visa to two of their key players has reduced their chances further.
While defender Nasiru Opayemi was a rock at the back of the defense, striker Afeez Olayemi was very dangerous upfront. The striker was also the scorer of Colombo’s solitary goal in the first leg. In absence of two of their key players, it will be a Herculean task for the Yellow Submarines to produce a clinical performance.
However, Colombo will be relieved after their midfielder Momas Yapo has been granted permission and will reach the city hours before the kickoff. In absence of two other key players, it is very much expected that coach Mohamed Roomy Hasan will draft him straight away into the starting line-up.
Captain Rawme Mohideen has passed a fitness test but it remains up to coach Roomy to decide whether he wants to risk his skipper for the game. If the Sri Lankan’s manage to overturn the deficit against their much-fancied opponents, it will be a memorable day for Sri Lankan football.
Keeping the circumstances and bench strength of Bagan in mind, it is expected to be a stroll in the park for Bagan. But who knows, what have Colombo FC players brought with them?
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