KOLKATA: McDowell Mohun Bagan take on United SC in another Kolkata derby at the Salt Lake Stadium on Friday evening in Round 13 of the Airtel I-League. Both teams have played 11 games each so far but United SC have recorded six points more than Mohun Bagan and are placed six spots higher in the fifth position.
Both sides failed to win in the previous round but there were highly contrasting results as Mohun Bagan were beaten 2-0 at home by Shillong’s Rangdajied United, who moved out of the bottom spot for the first time in their debut campaign. The result extended Mohun Bagan’s current winless run to five matches and they have managed to score just once in this sequence.
Meanwhile United SC became the first side to score away at Pune FC this season as they came from behind to hold the Red Lizards to a 1-1 draw. The purple shirts are very much in the title mix as they are only four points off the top.
Goal scoring has been the major problem for the Mariners as they have the worst offensive record in the league with just six goals and skipper Odafa Okolie is yet to score this term despite playing three full matches.
Mohun Bagan coach Karim Bencherifa would be hoping that new Nigerian signing Christopher Chizoba, who has replaced Kenyan Eric Muranda as the club’s new fourth foreigner, will take some pressure off Odafa.
Chizoba is available to make his I-League debut in this clash and would be hoping to emulate the consistency that he was showing for Peerless SC in the Calcutta Football League (CFL).
The sides played out a goalless stalemate in the CFL last month and United SC coach Eelco Schattorie is not underestimating Mohun Bagan despite their poor form. The Dutch tactician is also hoping to see his star striker Ranti Martins fire on all cylinders as the Nigerian has managed only four goals in eleven appearances.
“Their (Mohun Bagan) backs are against the wall. They will come hard at us. I am 100% sure about that. We cannot afford to take them lightly. I want Ranti to score. He hasn’t been getting goals of late. So it will not be bad if he gets one on Friday,” Eelco was quoted saying.
United SC lead the I-League head-to-head record with five wins, three defeats and two draws and are unbeaten in the last six against Mohun Bagan but given the unpredictability and competitiveness of the Airtel I-League so far, any result is possible in this fixture.