Mumbai,: I-League football laggards Mumbai FC face a formidable task to keep table toppers Mohun Bagan at bay when the two teams clash in a 20th round encounter at the Cooperage football ground here tomorrow. When the two teams met previously in Kolkata in the middle of January, Bagan ran out 3-1 winners with a twin strike from Katsumi Yusa interspersed with another successful effort from Sony Horde burying the visiting team’s hopes.
This time around MFC, without their coach Khalid Jamil to guide them from the bench as he will be serving the last of his four-game ban, would rely on their home advantage and vociferous crowd support to stop Bagan.
Bagan’s Japanese midfielder Yusa, who has notched up six goals from 14 appearances this season, and Haitian striker Norde, who has accounted for 7 from 13 games, are the major threats for MFC who are dependent on lone Brazilian striker Josimar – who has seven goals to show for – to lead the attack.
On the road, Sanjoy Sen-coached Bagan had lost 3-2 against Royal Wahingdoh but rebounded with a 2-0 defeat over Pune FC.
The Kolkata outfit, who would be without key medio Balwant Singh as he will complete his two-match suspension only after this game, would be keen to widen the lead at the top with a victory.
Meanwhile MFC, now in eighth spot, would be boosted by the fact that even without Jamil around to plot their fortunes they have drawn three back to back away games under the guidance of Henry Picardo.
Considering the strength of Bagan and with injured Japanese midfield fulcrum Taisuke Matsugae unlikely to take the field, a draw would be a realistic expectation for the home team.