Kolkata: Local giants Mohammedan Sporting (MDSP), will go into the first quarter-final of 131st IndianOil Durand Cup against the Kerala Blasters FC (KBFC) on Friday as firm favourites, but they will know that they will be up against a dangerous, talented and young Blasters side, capable of turning the tables on the best in Indian football on their day.
The winners on Friday take on the winners of the third quarter-final between Mumbai City FC and Chennaiyin FC, which is scheduled for Sunday.
The MDSP-KBFC match will take place at the hallowed Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan (VYBK) in Kolkata and is scheduled for a 6.00 pm kick-off.
At the outset, MDSP definitely have a few of advantages even before the starting whistle. For one,they know the conditions better than anyone and have also played some of their group games at the VYBK. Secondly, they have not had to travel, like the Blasters have from Guwahati and so will be relatively fresher. Finally, MDSP will have about 40,000 plus adoring, cheering and roaring home supporters on their side and that can lift any side and overwhelm any opponent.
MDSP will also be on a high, given that they have qualified as group toppers from Group A, which also had the likes of Bengaluru FC in it, besides defending champions FC Goa. They won three out of four matches with consummate ease and were also the betterside against Bengaluru for most of the game, leading for the longest time before going down to 10-men and settling for a draw. They have a settled look to their side with all positions well covered and Trinidadian talisman Marcus Joseph has not only been scoring, but has turned out to be a lethal creator this year which bodes well.
Russian coach Andrey Chernyshov could not stress enough on the importance of home-fans for the Friday game. Speaking to reporters a day before the game, Chernyshov said, “It’s going to be a tough game but we are ready. There will be some changes tomorrow because of injury and cards, but that’s football and we have to be ready for all situations.” On a question on Marcus’ role in the team, the gaffer said “Marcus is an important player. But this year he has slightly changed his playing style which is good for the team but he is still a dangerous player in our squad. I as a coach always stay hungry. We want to win all the game and tournaments but this is football. Sometimes you win sometimes you don’t win. But tomorrow is going to be an important game. Fans are really important for us. The more supporters come the more better we play. They support us very well and they are really amazing. We need them tomorrow please. Please come and support us tomorrow. Jaan Jaan
Mohammedan”KBFC on the other hand have qualified asthe second team from Group D behindOdisha FC. All matches of that group were played at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati.
Kerala lost to a clearly superior Odisha FC but held out for a good draw against Sudeva FC and then beat NorthEast United FC, before stunning Army Green for a place in the last eight. They are a side brimming with young talent in all positions.
The terrible twins up front, Md. Aimen and Md. Azhar are a handful with the former striking three times in the tournament so far, to be currently among the top scorers. Md. Ajsal is also a talented centre-forward and then they have the highly proficient Tejas Krishna at the back with captain Sachin Suresh as safe as a house under the Blasters bar. To add to this, one of the goals of the tournament has been scored by their talented left-wing back Aritra Das and Vibin Mohanan, an India age-group international, has been marshalling resources from midfield with aplomb. The group also gives the impression that they have been playing together and enjoy playing together, factors so important in a team sport like football.
Polish Manager Tomasz Tchorz however was aware of the quality of their Friday opponents and was guarded in the pre-match presser saying, “We are happy to take part in this tournament. And we are hungry to do good here. The motivation for tomorrow’s match will be that we are going to play against a good team of the I-League. Our team will be ready to show their talent. The supporters who are going to come and support us, I just want to say that we are going to give our 100 percent. Definitely Mohammedan will be having more supporters but it won’t matter. We are ready to fight on the field”.
All in all, it is sure to be a highly competitive fixture in front of a full-house and will set the tone for the knockouts going forward.
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