Sahu Maharaj Stadium, Kolhapur
19th May, 4:00 PM IST
Henry Picardo’s side were held to a 1-1 stalemate in the Maharashtra derby last Sunday, which keeps the Mumbai side in the top half of the table, cementing their fifth position this season. Mumbai FC still has two games up their sleeve, and without a shadow of a doubt, the side would like to end their dramatic season on a high note. Mumbai lads welcome the defending champions at Sahu Maharaj Stadium, Kolhapur today, in a very crucial encounter for the Goans. Henry Picardo is expected to once again deploy Kuttimani and Sukore upfront, with Henry playing off the strikers. Nidhinlal would again be in the goal, supported by the defensive pairing of Quao and Nicholas. Mumbai FC will miss their influential defender Peter Siddiqui for this encounter, as he serves a single match ban, after getting booked in the last match. Dane and Keegan Pereira would also be missing from the Mumbai outfit as they both are nursing injuries. The Mumbai lads have gathered 33 points from 24 matches, and are 10 points behind their guests from Goa. Ebi Sukore scored his eighth goal of the season just few minutes before the final whistle, and would certainly be looking to increase his tally at home.
Dempo Sports Club, lost significant ground in their last match, losing to fellow title challengers East Bengal at Yuba Bharati Krirangan. Armando Colaco would be looking for no less than a victory, as three points here would be very vital in the title race. Dempo missed out on the chance to leapfrog their opponents and jump to third. Ranti and Beto, both scored in the last match, but it was all in vain, as East Bengal celebrated their fourteenth victory of the season. Goan Whites now stay at the fourth position in the table, with 44 points from 22 games. Dempo may have a tough outing as they will miss some of their key players for this fixture at Kolhapur. Samir Naik, John Dias and Debabrata Roy are all serving a one-match ban due to the cautions they had picked up. Clifford Miranda has been suspended due to the red card he received in the last match. However, veteran stopper Mahesh Gawli, who had to be hospitalized during the last match, is expected to start this one, alongside Iranian Ali Saminia. Margo Peixoto would start as the left back with Valeriano Rebello treading the right flank. Clifford would be replaced by Godwin Franco in the middle of the park, with Peter Carvalho as a regular right out and Nicolau Borges on the counter left. Beto and Ranti Martins are expected to start as strikers, with Kalu expected miss out on the trip due to the foreigners rule.
The match is more crucial for both the teams, as the Mumbai club would not like to give away a decent fifth position finish just as the season draws to a close. On the other hand, depleted Dempo side need to show some resilience and true champion’s spirit to bring the title charge on track. The last encounter between these two clubs in Margaon finished in a Dempo win, with usual suspect Beto scoring in the second half.
TheHardTackle’s PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR
Ebi Sukore (Mumbai FC), Ranti Martins Soleye (Dempo SC)
Mumbai FC 0-2 Dempo SC
PJN Stadium, Margao, Goa
19th May, 4:15 PM IST
Karim Bencharifa’s army takes on the Red-&-Gold brigade from Kolkata, in what can be anticipated as the second playoff for the title, when too teams face off in a rescheduled round 19 match at Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in Fatorda. Goan Greens fuelled their title-aspirating engine after a good and clinical victory over Indian Arrows on Sunday. Ryuji Sueoka scored a brace and Cajetan Fernandez also scored in an easy win. More importantly, the hosts are three points ahead of the visiting Kolkata side, but have played two matches more. So virtually a victory here for the former champions, will significantly dent East Bengal hopes, as they need to play Churchill Brothers too, at the same ground on Sunday. Salgaocar SC has their full squad available for this important fixture. Once again, lethal Sueoka and Yakubu are expected to lead the attack. The defense was up to the mark in the last match, and certainly has to be double alert, if they intent to mark the men in form for East Bengal – Tolgay Ozbey and Baljit Sahni.
On the other hand, East Bengal will be depleted due to the cautions and the sending offs in the last match. East Bengal registered a crucial win, thanks to a flamboyant brace from Aussie Tolgay Ozbey, but the former champions will miss some of their crucial players. The federation cup winners will be without defenders Gurwinder Singh, Nirmal Chettri and Uga Okpara. Saikat Saha Roy could start in the middle of the makeshift defense along with the experienced Rahim Nabi. Ravinder singh is expected to continue floating delicious deliveries from the left, and Naoba to replicate the same from the right flank. Tolgay Ozbey and Baljit Sahni are expected to start from front. Once again, the unsung hero and captain Mehtab Hussain will be pulling all the strings, and feeding the strikers.
The Moroccan would certainly be looking to take revenge as his side was beaten by East Bengal in the reverse fixture last year. Man from down under, Mr.Tolgay, scored the only goal of the match, clinching all three points. It is yet to be seen whether Karim Bencharifa’s side finally breaks the jinx of choking and makes a loud statement today. It all adds up to be a fascinating encounter. Do not miss this one.
TheHardTackle’s PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR
Yusuf Yakubu (Salgaocar SC), Baljit Sahni (East Bengal)
Salgaocar SC 2-2 East Bengal