By I-League Media
KOLKATA: Hero I-League is ready to get off to a rollicking start at Barasat Stadium with defending champions, Mohun Bagan facing off with newly promoted Aizawl FC.
While the new kids on the block from Mizoram have nothing to lose and have a near complete squad available at their disposal, the Kolkata giants are plagued by injury worries aplenty.
Aizawl FC are fresh off a championship win in the Mizoram Premier League under newly appointed Spanish coach, Manuel Retamero and will look to make a similar splash like last year’s Royal Wahingdoh.
Retamero has the services of all four foreign players at his disposal including former Mumbai FC player, Alfred Jaryan.
Nigerian centre-back Emmanuel Chigozie will most likely to compliment Japanese defender Yuto Kinowaki.
Jaryan will most likely pair up with another new recruit Atsushi Yonezawa upfront while the midfield will be helmed by skipper David Larinmuana.
The Spanish coach said that newly signed goalkeeper Soiram Poirei will play a key role against the Mariners.
‘I think Poirei will be one of the key Indian players in our match tomorrow,’ opined Retamero.
Jaryan meanwhile did not take the Mohun Bagan defense for granted saying, ” I have already played against the likes of Kingshuk, Pritam, Dhana and I know they are good players so it will be tough.”
Sanjoy Sen meanwhile will be lacking a clutch of key players as he begins the championship defense.
While Jeje Lalpekhlua and Pronay Haldar have not joined the squad yet, new recruit Lenny Rodrigues is out for two weeks with a groin strain.
Among the foreigners, Sony Norde is away on national team duty while Luciano Sobrosa still has not joined the team due to visa issues.
Sen however said that he was ready to take on all the difficulties head on.
“Yes there are difficulties. The path is not always smooth, there are obstacles. There are problems when it is smooth in fact. So we need to face up to these challenges and we need to start aiming for three points,” said the gaffer.
Katsumi Yusa is expected to be the creative outlet for the team in Norde’s absence and will look to tee up the duo of Cornell Glen and Balwant Singh upfront.
Sen was happy with Balwant’s effort even though his playing time in ISL was restricted.
“I am really happy with Balwant’s effort especially since he did not play much in the ISL,” opined the Mariners’ boss.
He however sounded a word of caution against Aizawl saying, “Aizawl are at an advantage since as underdogs, they have nothing to lose. They will play for pride and to prove themselves. They have maximum local boys barring four foreigners. We know how Mizo players play and as I have said we are under pressure to perform, not them.”
With the established giants facing up against expectant newcomers, one could have not have expected a better start to the Hero I-League.
Match Kick-off: 04:30 PM at Barasat Stadium