KOLKATA: “The first game is key,” said Dipendu Biswas. “We are starting with a clear mindset and that is to gain promotion to the I-League. Our preparations have gone very well. This match will serve to see the implementation of the pre-season preparations.”
Mohammedan Sporting Club are visiting Bhwanipore FC in their 2019/20 2nd Division League opener. Speaking after taking his charges through their pre-match session, an upbeat and optimistic Black Panthers technical director said: “There is not much that you can do in terms of surveillances on the opponents. Bhawanipore have added some new faces in their team. We have done our homework and we gathered intelligence about them, albeit limited because they haven’t been exposed that much.”
The Black Panthers looks to build on their Calcutta Premier Division exploits where they went very close to bagging silverware after 38 years before eventually settling for a fourth-place finish.
Biswas knows that there is a reasonable amount of pressure on his side to deliver a similar result to Calcutta Premier Division, and the former striker has insight into what is required at this level of competition and believes the preparations the team has followed will assist them in achieving their objective. The opening match could be the catalyst that Mohammedan SC need to finally start the league on a high as they are notorious for being slow starters.
“The first match is always hard because there is always some uncertainty. We will approach the game with all the seriousness it deserves,” he said.
For the Black Panthers the preparations have been long and at times arduous, but Biswas believes that is what is necessary if they want to qualify for the I-League.
“We have been training for last two months already and we are ready to go. It’s difficult and challenging as well, the task ahead of us. When you ask: ‘are you going to qualify for the I-League?’, of course it’s easy to say yes, but it’s hard to do it. If we want to qualify we really need to work hard and I believe my boys are doing just that and we will make a difference,” he explained.
Biswas brings a different style of play to the table and he is adamant that he has the players to make this work. Priyant Singh is likely to start the game in goal. Hira Mondal will start at left back while Prosenjit Pal and one of Balwinder Singh or Vikas Saini will start as centre backs. It will be Shafiul Rahman who will start as right back.
Although Musa Mudde and Tirthankar Sarkar are not fit to start, Biswas still has a wealth of options in midfield and it will be interesting to see who the former India skipper eventually picks to start the game. Firoj Ali and Satyam Sharma are likely options in the central midfield positions. The attacking and wing positions will be a tough choice for Biswas who will have to choose between Vanlalbiaa Chhangte, Dipendu Dowary, Sujoy Dutta, Moses Lalrinzuala, Sanjib Ghosh, Mohammad Farid and Shamsad Ali. Jiten Murmu will be a likely starter up front with John Chidi.
“We have a good squad of players to choose the best combination to face United,” commented Biswas. “We have few concerns over Musa and Tirthankar’s fitness, but we will have a very strong team on Saturday. The mood is high in the camp and I think the lads know their responsibilities. As individuals the players have reached a stage where they have a point to prove. That is good for the team.”
The match at Kalyani Stadium will kick-off at 2:30 PM.