In I-League Round 20, Mohun Bagan face their arch rivals Kingfisher East Bengal which is a marquee encounter of the round. Churchill brother will face resurgent Prayag United while Dempo SC plays AIR India in search of 3 points to remain in the title race. The HardTackle takes a look at the matches and a key tactical battle that could shape the results in the six matches to be played in this round.

Can Mohun Bagan Survive The Drop?

Who could forget the unfinished derby last year? The derby was the talking point of the season for a lot of wrong reasons. Mohun Bagan found themselves  banned after they failed to take the field in the second half will look to prove a point. The Kolkata Giants have always been in talking points due to various wrong reasons. This derby will not just be any derby for them as they are battling at the bottom of the table to survive in the league. The Mariners have a full squad at its disposal and will look to win against their arch rivals Kingfisher East Bengal.  All eyes will be on the Tolgay Ozbey – The Mohun Bagan striker has switched his loyalty in summer and will be playing his first match against East Bengal.

Kingfisher East Bengal will be going into the derby as league leader. The Kolkata giants have found their winning momentum back. The league leaders have 39 points and have played 2 more matches than Churchill brothers who are in 2nd position. They will want to continue their winning run. The derby always has been difficult not just because of the quality of football but also the pressure from the fans and the management.  Chidi Edeh has been impressive this season with the red and gold brigade. Nigerian Defender Uga Okpara would be a key member of the team when they go in the derby.

Will Salgaocar Continue Their Dominance Over The Shillong Lajong?

Salgaocar FC will look to earn crucial 3 points against Shillong Lajong at the Duler Stadium, Goa. Salgaocar FC has struggled this season and the Goan green is in the bottom half of the table and just above the relegation zone.  The team in its last match pulled off an upset in a stunning win over the Pune FC.  The greens will look to pick up from where they left in the last match. The 3 new foreign signings have been impressive since their arrival at the club. The Singaporean International John Wilkinson has impressed everyone with his impressive display in the midfield.  Francis Fernandes will look to continue his superb form and help the team to earn 3 points.

Shillong Lajong after a good start to the season have struggled a bit. The north eastern team has been in wrong ends of the results. Lajong is at 10 positions in the table with 19 points in their kitty. The Shillong based side always struggled to get results in Goa. It will be interesting to see if they can pull off a victory against Salgaocar FC. The new Japanese recruits Taisuke Matsungae and Sho Komimura have been impressive since their arrival and will look to continue their form.

The Maharashtra Derby At Its Best

Mumbai FC has surprised everyone this season and  the Mumbai Outfit find themselves in the top half of the table with 26 points. The Club is in good form and will look to continue its against the Pune FC. The club recently has been bad books of few clubs because of the time wasting tactics. A lot of clubs have shown displeasure with the way Mumbai FC used this time wasting tactics. The Club plays like with unity and have shown that they are good enough to beat anyone. The Ghanaian veteran striker Yusuf Yakubu will be one to watch out in the match. He has been a perfect leader on the pitch for the club.

Pune FC players celebrate Arata Izumi’s strike.

Pune FC in recent few matches has struggled. The red lizards who were looking like unbeatable have failed to win 3 points in last few matches. The club at one point was looking like title favourite but recent poor results have hampered their chances of winning the title. The club strike department was anonymous in last few matches. Izumi Arata who recently won his first cap for India will be the man to watch out along with the captain Pierre Douhou in the midfield.

Sporting Clube De Goa Looking To Continue Their Winning Run. 

Paillan Arrows have been inconstant in the league this season. The youngsters have been impressive as individuals but failed to get positive results as a team. One of the biggest disappointments has been the form of Alwyn George. The youngster after some early promise has not lived up to the expectation of the fans in the league. Souvik Ghosh has done well for the team in the defence but he need to be more consistent. The goal keeper Soram Agamba has been really impressive under the bar and he will have to be on his toes to stop sporting club de Goa.

Sporting Clube de Goa is in the great form in the league. The flaming orange has been giant killers in the league so far. In the last 2 matches the club has defeated clubs like Salgaocar FC and Churchill Brothers. Under the new Spanish coach Oscar Bruzan and Spanish flavour in the team have done wonders for the club. The two new signings of the club Angel Burlega and Juanfri have been impressive to say the least. The Spaniards have revitalized the club and will look to dominate the youngsters from the Paillan Arrows.

United Sikkim Set Eyes On Three Points Against ONGC

United Sikkim started the league with a win over the Salgaocar FC but since then the club has failed to win a single match. The club has been one of the poorest performers in the league. The inexperience of the players has hampered them a lot.  After showing displeasure with the current set of the players; the new Australian coach of the team Nathan Hall has signed host of the players to bolster the team.  The new signings are Steve Hayes from Australia, Pablo Rodriquez Aracil from Spain and John Landa Matkin from America. These players will have a crucial role to play in the match against ONGC.

ONGC has been a surprise package of the league. The Oil-Men under their coach Santosh Kashyap have played some good football. They have been able to defeat some bigger clubs in the league. The team doesn’t have any stars but plays as a unit. The Japanese playmaker Katsumi Yusa has been in great form and he will be a key member of the team against United Sikkim.

Churchill Brothers Continue Their Quest For The Title.

Churchill Brothers have impressed everyone with their free flowing attacking brand of football. The red machines are in the hunt for the title. The club will look to capitalize on the advantage they have in winning the title. But in the recent times the clubs had some unsatisfactory results. They have failed to win in last 2 matches and lost against the minnows Sporting Clube de Goa. After they talismanic defender Bilal Najjarin left the club for the greener pasture the club has signed Dutch player Bas Ven Brink. The captain and instrumental figure in the midfield Beto will have to work hard for the victory against the Prayag United.

Prayag was taunted as the title favourite at the start of the league but with inconsistent performance have knocked them out of the title race. The recent form of the club has been good and they will look to capitalize on it and get some good results. The team looks in good shape and will look to defeat Churchill brothers. CK Vineeth will be high on confidence after winning his first cap for the national team. The youngster will be thorn in flash for the rival defense.

Dempo SC In Search Of The Victory Against The Air India

Air India has been performing poorly consistently. The pilots are in 12th position just above the drop with 15 points. The club has signed the Afghanistan international defender Mujtaba Faiz to help them in defence. The players like Mickey Fernandes, Souvik Chakraborthy and Pradeep Mohanraj will have to work hard to stop teams like a dempo.

Dempo SC has been in problem in recent times; the club missing few key players due to injuries and suspension. The club has failed to get win against Mumbai FC and ONGC and that have hampered the title hopes for some extend. The players in the team need to get their act together and play at their best to help teams in defending the title. The club captain Clifford Mirranda will be missing due to a red card in the last match. The likes of Peter Carvalho and Joaquim Abranches have to step up and take some responsibility in absence of the Clifford Mirranda.

Predictions

Mohun Bagan 1 – 2 Kingfisher East Bengal

Salgaocar FC 2 – 1 Shillong Lajong

Mumbai Fc 1 – 1 Pune FC

Paillan Arrows 0 – 2 Sporting Clube de Goa

United Sikkim 1 – 2 ONGC FC

Churchill Brothers 1 – 1 Prayag United

Air India 0 – 2 Dempo