Internet Desk: Mohammedan Sporting Club will go into an crucial away clash against table toppers Neroca FC, knowing they need nothing but a win in the last Preliminary Round Group-B fixture of the 2nd Division League to be played at Khuman Lampak Main Stadium in Imphal on Saturday.
The Black Panthers are at third position in the table with 9 points in their kitty from 5 matches and have no other option but to register a win over the Highlanders to secure their place in the final round. While Neroca FC, on 12 points, only need a draw to qualify and should be at an advantage since they are playing at home where they have never lost a 2nd Division League match since making their debut in 2015.
“We will be playing the most important game of the season and as I have said in the past that my aim is to win every game, so against Neroca my team will be going all out. It will be a tough game and we need to believe in our team abilities.” said Mohammedan SC coach Ranjan Chaudhury.
In the reverse fixture, Mohammedan SC garnered all three points in Kolkata, thanks to goals by Manvir Singh and team’s top scorer Vanlalbiaa Chhangte. Since the away defeat, Neroca FC have recovered immaculately and logged 3 consecutive wins beating Southern Samity twice and Hindustan FC.
Mohammedan SC’s intimidating attacking trio comprising of Vanlalbiaa, Manvir and Leonce Dodoz has gave a much needed boost to their hope to make into the final round when they thrashed Hindustan FC 6-1 to record their biggest ever win in 2nd Division League last week, however the task at hand is not looking easy against a gritty Neroca FC side that have last conceded at home almost a year ago in April 2016 against Lonestar Kashmir FC.
“We will stick to our basics and play a normal game. We hope to implement our natural attacking game and seek to eliminate mistakes at the back. We saw Neroca put a lot of pressure on Southern Samity and I am sure they will come hard at us. We will have to keep our composure and as I have said, play our natural game,” coach Chaudhury added.
Coach Chaudhury is completely aware that Neroca FC will have an extra advantage as they will be backed by a crowd of approximately 20,000. But the former India international fancies his team’s chances.
“Neroca has an advantage with 15,000 to 20,000 fans supporting them but who can win the game are the players inside the field. I know it will be hard for us because we in a must-win situation but having said that we are here to win,” coach Chaudhury concluded.
Heading into the match, Mohammedan SC will be relieved as they will once again get back the services of their skipper Rana Gharami, who had missed the last match for his accumulation of yellow cards. With Rana back in the side, the defence will get the cutting edge that was missing against Hindustan FC.
Over the years, both sides have faced off five times in 2nd Division League. Mohammedan SC boasts a better head-to-head record having logged three wins compared to Neroca FC’s two. But all in all, Neroca FC are looking strong, while Mohammedan SC need to pull something special out of the bag.
The match in Imphal kicks off at 1.30 PM on Saturday.