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I-L: Bagan look to Odafa to turn the tide

Posted on Jan 31, 07:52PM | IBNS

Kalyani, Jan 31 : Mohun Bagan will be looking to dispel the gloom of a winless streak when they take on the unrelenting ONGC FC in the 19th round of the I-League at Kalyani's Municipal Stadium on Friday.

aving managed just two draws after a loss, Mohun Bagan have not been able to justify their reputation after being given the reprieve by All India Football Federation.

Mohun Bagan's Moroccan coach Karim Bencherifa is befuddled by his teams' incapacity to regain the form after they were allowed to restart their campaign in the ongoing League.

Though the team has been docked off their points in the first 10 rounds as a penalty, the next three rounds after the resumption have been very promising.

Mohun Bagan managed a couple of insipid draws at home after losing the first match against Salgaocar while visiting the latters.
ONGC FC is tracing a completely different graph under their new coach Santosh Kashyap. The very person who had been released unceremoniously by

Mohun Bagan, who later brought in Karim as the replacement, has ensured a brilliant recovery for ONGC.

The Delhi-based team have remained unbeaten in the last eight matches and have made it to the seventh position maintaining the flourish unmitigated.

ONGC had held Mohun Bagan goalless at home in the fifth round of the first phase, which will be an added advantage for the side.

What is giving Mohun Bagan some hope in the present gloom is the return of their ace striker Nigerian Okolie Odafa after three-match suspension.

"Odafa's return will definitely give the team a big mental boost. He is an important player and we hope to make a turnaround as rejoins the team," said Karim hinting that the goal-drought Mohun Bagan have suffered so long will be over with the arrival of the Nigerian striker.

"I have always held that the team needs a win to get the confidence back. We hope to do that tomorrow," he said.

"ONGC is playing well and like any other team in the tournament will be a big challenge for us. We put a fairly good performance in the previous match (1-1 against Prayag United) and were unlucky not to get a win. Hopefully we will do better tomorrow," Karim said.

"I definitely have an emotional attachment with Mohun Bagan having coached them earlier in the season. But I am a professional coach and having taken the charge of ONGC, it is my job to do the best for them," said Santosh Kashyap.

"We hope to retain the composure that has helped the team unbeaten in the last few rounds and get a favourable result tomorrow," he added.

Suspensions and injuries are part of a long league. Odafa is a good player and his return from suspension means that we will have to be extra cautious against Mohun Bagan. Hopefully we will find a way to stop him," Kashyap said.

"Mohun Bagan is always a very strong and reputed side. They are presently in the relegation zone because of some wrong decision of their officials for which the team have pay the penalty.

"They continue to be big opponents and we will have to take out game to a higher level to well against them," Kashyap said.