Mohammedan Sporting Club aim to kick off their 2017/18 Second Division League Preliminary Round Group C campaign on all the right notes when they host the reserve side of Indian Super League (ISL) franchise Jamshedpur FC at the Barasat Stadium on Wednesday (14 March 2018).
The Black Panthers, who will look to forget last season’s horrors as they missed out on a final round berth, are in upbeat mood after winning the 2018 All India Steel Express Cup in Chakradharpur, Jharkhand recently.
Nonetheless, the game against a relatively unknown Jamshedpur FC side won’t be an easy one and the gaffer Biswajit Bhattacharya wants his side to be cautious.
The Black Panthers did well in pre-season, although the coach appeared worried about the absence of international players. Nigerian defender Echezona Anyichie is the only foreigner available for the opener.
“The first match is always difficult, and it is always very important to start with a victory, as it will set the tone for the entire campaign. We will be looking for a win tomorrow to get the early momentum going,” Coach Bhattacharya said on the eve of the clash.
Even though Mohammedan SC has lost some of their mercurial players from 2017/18 Calcutta Football League squad, the Black Panthers have brought in suitable replacements in the January transfer window.
However, Mohammedan SC may miss Aser Pierrick Dipanda Dicka, who finished as top scorer in the Calcutta Football League. They will also miss charismatic striker Manvir Singh.
“We tried to solve all these changes, it was not just about them (Dipanda and Manvir). It is about a lot of other players as well. But I am happy with how we have solved these absentees,” added Coach Bhattacharya, who is trying to rebuild the squad following the departure of several big names.
Responding to a question on the advantage of playing their first match at home, Coach Bhattacharya said, “I don’t think it is an advantage. If you want to go the distance, you have to play well both home and away. Yes, at home we will have more support to win all three points. But that doesn’t change our approach to the game.”
Meanwhile, Jamshedpur FC coach Hilal Rasool Parry said his side would play positive football.
The match at Barasat Stadium kicks off at IST 3:15 PM on Wednesday.
(Mohammedan Sporting Club)