On the eve of their AFC Champions League match against Tampines Rovers FC, Mohun Bagan coach Sanjoy Sen says that his team is prepared to go the distance, in order to make history in the competition.
Both Pune FC and Bengaluru FC had made their way to the qualification stage of the competition in the previous years, and no Indian team has won a single match in this tournament yet. The match against Tampines Rovers at the Yuba Bharati Kringan,better known as the Salt Lake Stadium is a one-off knockout game, and will go into extra time and penalties, if both the teams are still tied.
Sen believes that his team is completely ready to play 120 minutes of football in the midweek. He said in the pre match press conference, “We have discussed the possibility of the match rolling into extra time. Of course if we can finish off in 90 minutes, that will be really good.”
However, Sen was also cautious to mark out that his team would be playing three matches in the space of eight days, which is why it is going to be very difficult for Mohun Bagan.
“After 27th, we have another game on the 30th, and we are having to play three matches in the space of eight days. If you take this as an excuse, then fine, it’s an excuse. But I’m not someone who thrives on giving excuses,” said Sen. “But we have to play in these tough conditions, and if we can’t do it within the 90 minutes, then we have also prepared to play the extra 30 minutes, as well as the tie-breaker.”
AFC Champions League, a matter of Mohun Bagan’s ‘identity’
Quizzed about Mohun Bagan’s ambitions in the Champions League, and whether he would be prioritising the domestic competitions over the Asian one, Sen categorically denied doing anything of the kind, and said that all the tournaments hold equal value to him and his team.
“I’ve seen the Kolkata teams giving more priority to the I-League over the AFC tournaments. And in spite of doing that, the I-League was not won [by Kolkata teams] for 13 years,” said Sen. “So I will give equal importance to every tournament. Our target is to win every match of every tournament. So we will go all out, in spite of any casualties.
“What matters is how we play in the match, because this is not just a club, this is a matter of our national identity, and this [win] can make us all the more proud,” he further said.
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