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AFC Cup - Dhaka Abahani Ltd - Mohun Bagan Preview - Mariners' set to dock explosively in Dhaka as Sky Blues await fireworks logo 31-05-2017

It's the final matchday in the group stages of the Asian Football Confederation's (AFC) Cup. Mohun Bagan will look to unfurl and flutter their sails in the continental competition's breeze as they seek to do the double over Dhaka Abahani Limited in Bangladesh, on Wednesday, 31st May.

This fixture has a series of connotations underlining it for the Maroon and Greens. Firstly, there is an outside chance Bagan will make it to the knockout stages of the competition provided Bengaluru FC lose against Maziya Sports and Recreation (S & RC), group E's surprise leaders. Bagan sit third in the group with six points - three points behind the Blue Brigade from the south of India. A win will propel them onto nine points.

However, a bigger concern throbbing the arteries of the Mariners will be the impending departure of the man at the Bridge of the Kolkata juggernaut - Sanjoy Sen. This is widely expected to tbe the 2015 I-League winning coach's last game in charge of a team he's built and presided over.

Therefore, the team he's presided and built will look to light up the Bangabandhu national stadium in corresponding colour fireworks. The hurt of losing their Federation Cup to their fiercest, non-Kolkata rivals will be hurting the Rabindra Sarobar stadium-based team and thus a full guns blazing Bagan side can be expected to take to the field.

The Kolkata side will be without some of their lieutenants on the field of play. Eduardo Ferreira, Sehnaj Singh, Balwant Singh, Pritam Kotal and Anas Edathodika have not travelled to the capital of the neighbouring nation. Sony Norde has been denied access to due to diplomatic reasons.

Another factor that needs to be considered is the state of cyclone Mora, which made landfall in Chittagong and is now moving towards the northeast of India.

Coach Sen stressed on the strength in reserve of this Bagan team that add unneccessary weight to the absentees in the squad.

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"It is more important how we play tomorrow than what team we have brought with us. We did not play Sony, Duffy and Eudardo against Bengaluru FC in our previous match of the AFC Cup, but still we beat them 3-1. So it is not important how much strength we have. What is important is whether you can play well to win,” he expounded.

Anyone expecting Dhaka Abahani to be the walkovers will be plain wrong. They, after all, did defeat the new Federation Cup champions during a group tie in Bangladesh and are expected to be similar barricade in the path of Sen's cavalry.

A defeat to Maziya away will home will be erased from the minds of Drago Mamaic's squad and, already eliminated, they will look to say goodbye to this edition of the tournament with a smile on the faces of their supporters.

"Sometimes one good player may not play but the other players give their best. It is not only up to Sony Norde, there are more good players like Jeje [Lalpekhlua], Katsumi [Yusa], Balwant [Singh], [Darryl] Duffy. But I am not looking at the other team; I am looking at my team to play like we played against Bengaluru FC. Everything is possible in tomorrow's [Wednesday's] match," revealed a collected Croat coach in his pre-match presser.

Kick-off from ACT II of this cross-border rivalry is to kickoff at 7.45 PM IST.


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