Mohun Bagan will look to consolidate their position atop the points standings in their bid for a second title when they face Punjab FC in a top-of-the-table I-League clash in Kalyani on Sunday.
Mohun Bagan, the 2014-’15 champions, who will play as a merged team with ATK in Indian Super League from 2020-’21, have a healthy six-point lead over Punjab at the halfway stage.
Unbeaten in eight matches, the Kolkata giants can retain their six-point lead by simply avoiding a defeat, but it is Punjab who cannot afford to lose and fall nine points behind.
“This is a nine-point game for us,” Punjab FC head coach Yan Law said on the eve of the match.
“We need to win and bring the gap to three points. A draw will also not satisfy us,” he added.
The Punjab outfit have bolstered their squad with the likes of former India defender Nirmal Chettri, attacking midfielder Alwyn George and former Mohun Bagan captain Eze Kingsley in their ranks.
“We’ve worked hard, signed some new players and stabilized the team even more. So we are going all out and make sure we take all three points from this fixture, and make us sure title contenders,” Law added.
At the Mariners’ camp, it has been sunny days as with every match, they have put up strong performances. The league leaders were without the services of defender Daniel Cyrus in their 3-2 win over Chennai City in their last match.
His absence coincided with the team conceding two goals for the first time in eight games, since their last defeat (2-4) to Churchill Brothers in December last year.
The stats make very good reading for Mohun Bagan. In seven I-League encounters between the two sides, Mohun Bagan have won four and drawn two, losing just once.
Churchill look to carry on winning run
Churchill Brothers under the guidance of Portuguese gaffer Bernardo Tavares will be hungry to make it two in two when they take on previous season champions Chennai City FC. The match will take place at the Fatorda Stadium in Goa on Sunday.
Churchill Brothers are at the moment placed fifth on the points table with 13 points from eight games. The team came of age in the last encounter against Neroca FC as they cruised through to a victory with a comfortable scoreline of 4-1. The biggest positive for the team is the return of Willis Plaza, whose two assists and one goal from the penalty spot were the highlight of the fixture against Neroca.
Another good news for the team lies in the return of centre-back Abu Bakr, who was sent off during the match against Gokulam Kerala FC.
Chennai City FC have been on an upward curve in terms of performance. After giving the league leaders Mohun Bagan a scare in Coimbatore, they recorded a comfortable victory over the Indian Arrows. With a win-loss record of 2-3, Chennai are at the moment placed ninth on the points table with 11 points to their name from nine games.
Chennai City FC have the upper hand when it comes to head-to-head. In the five encounters between both the teams Chennai has won three, one has been a draw and only once have Churchill triumphed.