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AFC Cup 2023-24: Mohun Bagan SG to face Odisha FC in a do-or-die affair

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An injury-stricken Mohun Bagan Super Giant will be resuming its efforts to find a place in the AFC Cup knock-out round after the international break when it meets Odisha FC at home in Salt Lake Stadium in a Group D league match on Monday.

With two rounds remaining, the four-team group action is poised interestingly with MBSG (currently at seven points from four outings) needing to win both its matches to ensure a passage to the next round.

It is currently tied on points with Bashundhara Kings from Bangladesh but is placed below it on the head-to-head record, having lost to the latter in Dhaka earlier this month.

The upcoming match becomes crucial for both the opponents as Odisha FC also has a chance to qualify being separated by a point from the top two sides.

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“It will be an important match as both the teams have the opportunity to be in the next round. So, it is going to be a tough match. They have very good players, but our target is to win the match and better our chances,” said the MBSG head coach Juan Ferrando.

What is worrying the host is the injury to at least four of its key players. After winger Ashique Kuruniyan was ruled out for a long time earlier, Mohun Bagan SG saw centre-back Anwar Ali and forward Manvir Singh also becoming unavailable owing to injuries.

Dimitri Petratos is also doubtful for the match, which would mean that Mohun Bagan will not be able to utilise the full quota of foreigners in case the Australian striker is ruled unfit. The Mariners had registered a comfortable 4-0 win against Odisha while visiting the latter in the first round of the group league action.

“Injuries in football are normal and happen to every side. What is important is that we have a big squad and we will prepare the other players who can come as replacements. I do not like to lose my energy thinking about Ashique, Anwar or Manvir not being here. Their absence is disappointing as we like our players but would be better to devote our energy to players who will be taking the field tomorrow and support the team strongly,” was how Ferrando sought to allay the injury concerns about his team.

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