Mapusa: Mohun Bagan begin their campaign from the scratch after their controversial reinstatement in the I-League with a match against relegation-threatened Salgaocar at the Duler Stadium here on Sunday. Mohun Bagan are back in the I-League after being handed a two-year ban for refusing the field in the second half of their derby match against East Bengal last month before the AIFF revoked the ban, but will have to start without any points in their kitty.
Incidentally, the Kolkata giants will run in a team that their current coach Karim Bencherifa trained at the start of the season before switching sides. "This is a very important match for us because we are starting 10 points behind the team which is ahead of us at the bottom of the pool. Salgaocar are 11 points ahead. This is a crucial match because we are both fighting to save relegation," said Bencherifa.
Bencherifa is no alien to fighting relegation as a couple of years ago he pulled Salgaocar out of the relegation zone after joining the team midway. Bencherifa said his team was "focused" and "ready" to take on Salgaocar. "We have had a good camp and all of the players are available. They are fit and raring to go," said Bencherifa.
Their captain and star striker Odafe Okolie will, however. miss tomorrow's match as he has been suspended for two matches for arguing with the referee in that fateful derby match. Salgaocar are likely to field three new foreign players.
Brazilian striker Josimar Martins, Singapore midfielder John Wilkinson and Nigerian sharpshooter O J Obatola have been talked about as the three new foreign additions for Salgaocar. Salgaocar lost the first round clash 0-3 in Kolkata but their coach David Booth will feel confident that he can turn the corner in familiar conditions and with a much improved squad at his disposal.