Depleted Mohun Bagan face Tampines Rovers in AFC last 16 match (Preview)

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Guwahati, May 23 (IANS) Mohun Bagan will be without the services of their captain Katsumi Yusa and the talismanic forward Sony Norde when they take on Singapore’s Tampines Rovers in an Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Round of 16 match here on Tuesday.

Japanese midfielder Katsumi suffered an ankle injury in the recent Federation Cup final where Mohun Bagan thrashed Aizawl FC 5-0. Norde is away on national duty for Haiti’s Copa America campaign — a tournament which is celebrating its centenary edition.

Defender Pritam Kotal is injured too and is all set to be sidelined for the tie.

Mohun Bagan topped Group G in the round robin stage of the tournament while Rovers finished second from Group E.

But Rovers’ campaign have been far from impressive in the AFC Cup. They managed to scrape through to this stage by collecting a last day victory against Selangor FA and now they will face an uphill task against the in-form Mohun Bagan.

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The visitors have their own injury concerns to worry about. Midfielder Yasir Hanapi, who scored a blinder against Selangor to put them through to the last 16, is ruled out through suspension.

Similarly, striker Billy Mehmet will miss out due to his late red card for an off-the-ball incident in the same game.

However, the team management can call on Canadian forward Jordan Webb, who was quite impressive in the last game against Warriors FC in their domestic league.

With the likes of Norde missing, all eyes will be on Mohun Bagan’s in-form Indian striker Jeje Lalpekhlua. The 25-year-old also scored a brace against Aizawl in the Federation Cup final and was also the tournament’s highest scorer with eight strikes.

Mohun Bagan coach Sanjoy Sen is well known for taking strong decisions when required. It will be interesting to see how he knits his midfield without Yusa and Norde.

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Rovers will be hoping to exploit precisely the same midfield holes that Sen would look to plug in and hit them with their swift counter attacks.

The last time these two outfits met in the AFC Champions League qualifiers, Mohun Bagan had defeated them 3-1 and Sen would ideally want a repeat of the same performance.



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