Kolkata: Mohun Bagan will aim to continue their winning run of two games when they take on Shillong Lajong at the majestic Salt Lake Stadium on Thursday. Beginning with a 1-1 draw against Minerva Punjab in their opening match, that saw them ship in a last minute goal, the Mariners however have not conceded any in their next two, that saw them win the most important Kolkata derby against East Bengal before decimating Churchill Brothers 5-0.
The wins however has not kept coach Sanjoy Sen off worries, whose team has been plagued by injuries. As many as four players sustained injury in the last match including star men Sony Norde and Ansumana Kromah, while Yuta Kinowaki and Arijit Bagui remain out of contention.
Liberian Kromah nonetheless is eager to play. Calling the match against Lajong important he said, “It is not a major injury (that I have). I believe in myself. With the treatment, I feel much better. I believe I can play tomorrow. I watched Lajong’s game. They have a good team. They run a lot.”
The lynchpin of Bagan’s midfield Kromah will however have to beat another Liberian, Laurence Doe a shield of Lajong’s defence, if he is to score a goal against the Highlanders. “Laurence (Doe) is my senior player. When he started playing I was small. He left the country as his style was not liked by national coach. He is an idol,” he said talking about his fellow countrymen.
Another Bagan asset Aser Pierrick Dipanda Dicka will have mixed emotions, when he steps into the pitch against his former side on Wednesday. He won the golden boot scoring 11 goals last season for ‘The Reds.’
Lajong on the other hand finds themselves in a crisis after a 5-1 humiliation at the hands of fellow Kolkata giants East Bengal. Bagan gaffer Sanjoy Sen however does not consider it to be an easy match for his team and demanding his boys to be consistent he said, “Lajong’s 5-1 defeat isn’t an advantage for us. I told my boys that three points are important. We need to be cautious. It was just a bad day in the office for Lajong last game. They had collected 6 points from first 2 matches. They are dangerous from set pieces. They are a well-balanced side.”
Aiman Al-Hagri is back fit for ‘The Reds’ but Abdoulaye Koffi is unavailable for selection as the onus will be on the Lajong defence to keep the star-studded Mohun Bagan attack quiet.
With six points from two matches coach Bobby Nongbet expects his boys to see off the defeat and focus on Bagan. “It’s a bit of pressure for us against Mohun Bagan considering how they played against Churchill. In the last match, we conceded two early goals in first and second half which made difficult to come back. Kingfisher East Bengal played well. But if Sony Norde and Kromah don’t play, it is an advantage for us”, he said.
Only a points separates the two sides but the onus will be on Bagan who with a win can climb to the top once again.