.

MOHUN BAGAN AC

v

JCT FC

YBK, Kolkata
22nd May 2011 – 5:00 PM IST

***

The Mariners, who are currently slotted at sixth in the table with 33 points from 24 games, welcome Sukhwinder Singh ‘Sukhi’s’ valiant JCT side. Both teams face off in a rescheduled Round 19 encounter at Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata on Sunday.  Subhas Bhowmick’s men held Karim Bencharifa’s table topping Salgaocar side to a draw in their last I-league match, which witnessed Nigerian hit man Chidi Edeh scoring a lovely brace to restore parity, helping his side to bail out with a point. Edeh takes his tally for the season to eight, after that clinical performance, and now is the top scorer for the Kolkata club this season.  The maroon-&-green army is expected to start with an expected line up of Shilton in goal, with Anwar Ali and Rakesh Masih in the center of defense. India right back Surkumar Singh has had more than decent last few games, teasing in good crosses for his strikers to work upon, and Chidi is surely capitalizing on them. Jammu and Kashmir captain Ishfaq Ali has been used as a substitute by Bhowmick in recent matches, but he could start this one as both Manish Mathani and Gouranga Dutta will miss out the last home game of the season due to suspension. Chidi Edeh is expected to start alongside Muritala Ali, now with Jose Barretto almost out of the season due to a serious injury. Jayanta Sen and Snehashish Chakraborty will spearhead the mid field once again for the former champions.

The Ludhiana based side moved up the table, despite of a draw in their previous match against Chirag United, at Guru Nanak Stadium. The Millmen have currently secured a eleventh spot in the table, garnering 24 points from as many games. The matches in hand are helping the inaugural champions to make their way out of the drop zone, as the side travels to Kolkata to play this re-scheduled fixture. It is a very crucial fixture for Sukhwinder’s side, as returning home pointless from Kolkata could make things a little more complicated, since the club would have table toppers Salgaocar lined up for their last home game. It is simple for the Ludhiana side, collect as many points from the last two games, and hope for other results to fall in their favor. JCT will be high on confidence after a come from behind victory against Chirag United under flood lit home stadium to gain a single point. Rahul Kumar and Gurtej Singh Jr. scored to bring the score line back to 2-2. Sukhwinder Singh is expected to deploy almost the same side from the last match, with reliable stopper Rahul Kumar leading the defense. Naveen Kumar would once again be the custodian, with Amandeep Singh slotting into the playmaker’s role in the middle. In from Ajay Singh and, last match’s hero, Gurtej Singh are expected to the lead the Phagwara side’s attack, in this all important tie. Jagpreet Singh and Maninder Singh are also expected to start this match for the Millmen, synching up to feed the attackers.

Mohun Bagan is expected to make the most of their last home game of the season, a season where the Kolkata giants had to contend with the runner’s up title in all the tournaments. Technical Director Subhas Bhowmick would certainly like to end a disappointing season with a silver lining. The Mariners have only one game in their last five games in the league, and drop of points here could see the side fall further down the table before the season ends. Last time these two teams met in Ludhiana, Mariners got the better of a struggling JCT side, courtesy a solitary Manish Mathani strike, who is serving a ban for this game. JCT will surely like to make the ‘matches in hand’ advantage count and collect some crucial points of this match.

TheHardTackle’s PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR

Chidi Edeh (Mohun Bagan AC), Jagpreet Singh (JCT FC)

TheHardTackle’s PREDICTION

Mohun Bagan AC 1 – 1 JCT FC

.

CHURCHILL BROTHERS SC

v

EAST BENGAL

PJN Stadium, Margao, Goa
22nd May, 4:15 PM IST

***

Another big match for the I-league title lined up on Sunday, which sees Churchill Brothers welcome East Bengal at Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Fatorda. Drago Mamic’s side won comfortably against HAL in their last league encounter at Bangalore. Usual suspect Odafa Okolie hit the back of the net for the 21st time this season, followed by Bineesh Balan’s strike in the first half. Kiwi Kayne Vincent topped the win with a goal of his own just before the full time whistle. Goan Whites are positioned at second place in the league table, with 47 points with two games to go. Churchill brothers have a very meek chance of winning the league this time, as victories in both of their remaining matches will make them end up with 53 points, equal to what Salgaocar have right now, with a match against JCT in hand.  So a victory in this match becomes mandatory for Churchill Brothers to entertain any thoughts of capturing the coveted title this year. Drago Mamic is expected to go in with Robert-Gourmangi-Denzil-Lenney defense, with Vinay under the posts on Sunday. Churchill Brothers has Karpeh Boima suspended for this match, so Steven Dias or Mohd. Rafi are expected to replace him in the mid field. Other expected starters are Bineesh Balan, Israil Gurung and Zakir. Charan Rai is expected to partner Odafa upfront.

East Bengal suffered a huge blow to their title aspirations, after a disheartening defeat against table toppers Salgaocar in their last match. Just a few days after the defeat, East Bengal face off against another Goan side at the same ground, in a do-or-die match. Trevor Morgan has Okpara, Nirmal Chettri and Gurwinder Singh available for selection, as the suspended trio return after serving a ban, but he has influential Mehtab Hussain and Harmanjot Singh Khabra suspended for this one, who serve fresh bans. Mehrajuddin Wadoo will once again come to the Kolkata side’s rescue, slotting in the midfield this time. Sanju Pradhan could also be summoned for this all important match. The strike-force will once again be headed by Tolgay Ozbey and Baljit Sahni, who gave their side a splendid start scoring inside first 20 minutes, just to see the 2-0 advantage reduced to a defeat at the end of the match. With the defenders back now, Coach Trever Morgan will expect a clinical performance at the back.

Both the sides are locked at 47 points, with the hosts having played one match extra, largely ruling them out of the title contender-ship. East Bengal has to win all their remaining fixtures, but still is not guaranteed a title win. Both the teams need to play their best football and hope that Salgaocar slip up. IFA Shield winners host Fed Cup winners, in hope that they could add another trophy to their trophy cabinet before the season dawns. The last time these two teams at YBK, it finished in a 2-2 draw, with Kayne Vincent scoring a brace to counter goals by Sanju Pradhan and Tolgay. It all makes for a breathtaking encounter, just like the one which happened few days ago at the same ground.

TheHardTackle’s PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR

Odafa Okolie (Churchill Brothers SC), Tolgay Ozbey (East Bengal)

TheHardTackle’s PREDICTION

Churchill Brothers SC 1 – 2 East Bengal