KOLKATA: Mohun Bagan and Club Valencia will look to seal their place in the 2017 AFC Cup Group Stage when they face off in the return South Zone play-off stage fixture at Rabindra Sarobar Stadium in Kolkata on Tuesday.
Both teams played out a 1-1 draw in the first leg played at Malé last week, and the hosts Mohun Bagan only need a goalless draw to secure their place in Group E of the competition, with Bengaluru FC, Maziya S&RC and Dhaka Abahani are group’s direct entrants.
However, Mohun Bagan gaffer Sanjoy Sen has described this as a must-win encounter for his side and wants to win by a handsome margin against the Maldivian side.
“I don’t know how to play for a draw. We play to try and win the game. Whatever happened in the past doesn’t equal the future. Tomorrow it will be new game and we have to start from scratch,” said Sanjoy Sen during the pre-match media interaction.
“We have a small advantage because of the away goal but everything depends how the game is going on tomorrow,” he added further.
Going into the game, Sanjoy Sen has decided to rest Scottish stiker Darryl Duffy, who scored in the first leg, alongside winger Prabir Das keeping in mind the I-League.
Nonetheless, Mohun Bagan fans will be happy to know that Haitian playmaker Sony Norde, who was suffering from knee injury, is back in side but a decision will only be made on the matchday.
Meanwhile, Club Valencia have made into to the AFC Cup Play-off stages after securing a 3-0 aggregate success over Bhutan’s Thimphu City FC in the Preliminary Stage.
However, The five time Dhivehi Premier League champions have often faltered in the continental stage. The Sunrisers made it twice into the second round of the Asian Club Championship and in each occasion they were handed thumping defeats as Thailand’s Thai Farmer’s Bank FC and Japan’s Kashima Antlers FC thrash them 7-0 and 16-0 respectively in 1995 and 2000.
The Islanders have also appeared in the AFC Cup three times before (2004, 2005 and 2009) but have yet to get past the group stage. It need to be mentioned that everytime Club Valencia reached the play-off stages of the competition, they have progressed into the group stages which will give a boost to the visitor’s confidence but if Mohun Bagan play to their potential then it’s more in favor of the hosts.
“Mohun Bagan is a strong side. We must be 100% concentrated and focused to negate their threats. It’s a tough battle but we will have to keep our composure and play a normal game. We hope to implement our natural attacking game and find a way to score,” said Ahmed Mujuthaba head coach Club Valencia.
The Islanders have came to Kolkata with three foreigners in Chinonye Prince Chinda, Godfrey West Omodu and Chizi Kaka Chinda. Furthermore, the likes of Shafiu Ahmed, Mohamed Faisal, Hussain Nihan and Ahmed Rilwan will also form an important part of the side.
Both teams last faced off in the 2002/03 AFC Champions League qualifiers. After playing a 2-2 draw with the Islanders at home, Mohun Bagan won the away leg 3-0.