NAGAON, ASSAM: In what many fans believe is the real 70th Independence Day Cup championship clash, Mohammedan Sporting Club and Minerva Punjab will square off at Nurul Amin Stadium on Friday for a spot in final, kick-off 6:30 pm.
Assamese media and fans have not only labelled Mohammedan SC as favorites to win this encounter but to also win the entire thing. However, coach Raghunath Nandi knows it very well that it’s a big ask for his young side and the veteran tactician believes the side has the talent and mental strength to do well.
Nandi has made it clear that he would be expecting a challenging encounter with Minerva, but he is unfazed by the pedigree of the reigning I-League champions.
“We have a lot of respect for Minerva but we are ready to face them. I think we are well prepared as we can be for this match. We need to keep our composure and I am positive that the players will rise to the occasion.”
“Of course we are facing a very tough opponent in Minerva and it will be tough for us, but hopefully we can make it a bit tough on Minerva too,” he said.
Nandi has indicated his pleasure with how the campaign has progressed thus far and will confident come kick-off that his side will go out and do the business to keep their hopes for a sixth Independence Day Cup title alive.
“A semifinal match is more tricky than the final itself because when you lose it, it becomes a matter of so close yet so far. It’s an important game but end of the day, it’s just another game and we need to play good football to win,” he added.
Mohammedan SC has a full complement to choose from. Several key players including Philip Adjah are expected to be restored into the starting line up, after resting them for their final group stage match.
Although Minerva has reinforced their squad adding the likes of William Opoku, Deepeak Devrani, Moinuddin Khan, Manandeep Singh, Arshpreet Singh, Eric Dano, Atinder Mani and Sukhwinder Singh alongside Irish technical director Paul Munster since losing their last Group B game, Black Panthers could have an edge over their opponents who will require mental fortitude to come back from their beating at the hands of Oil India.
The game will probably have a high tempo as both sides have a quick passing and ball controlling style of play as has been seen in their previous games. Each side will try to dominate in the midfield and control the game, but who will actually impose themselves more is till unknown.
These are arguably two best teams in the competition and much is at stake as the winner will be favoured to lift the trophy on Saturday.