Mohammedan Sporting to face Gokulam Kerala in struggle for survival battle
Mohammedan Sporting are struggling to stay away from the relegation zone and just when their performance needed a boost they go down. In the 2022/23 I-League, since the turn of the year they have only been able to get full points against Mumbai Kenkre in eleventh place. Even the home unbeaten record this season was broken in a humiliating 4-0 loss to RoundGlass Punjab and having lost their last two games they are just three points from the relegation zone.
This troubled brigade of Kibu Vicuna take on Gokulam Kerala FC here at the Kishore Bharati Krirangan on Sunday. Gokulam are defending champions but have also started falling down the ladder. They are now fourth in the table, ten points behind the top. Therefore, neither team can afford to give away points in tomorrow’s game. Gokulam has lost three games since the Hero I-League resumed after the winter break. With a lot of away games to play, Francesc Bonet knows he has to get the full points against a team like Mohammedan Sporting whose aim is to survive. These are often teams that hurt title contenders the most, and what’s sinister about Vicuna’s team is that they have firepower. Except it doesn’t come out often enough. Nobody can doubt the goal strength of Marcus Joseph and Abiola Dauda. But Vicuna tried them in different positions, sometimes the former, sometimes the latter – nothing brought enough goals. In recent games in particular, midfielders like Kean Lewis, Sheikh Faiaz and Abhisek Halder created plenty of chances but lost in attack for third place. Mirlan Murzaev, who sometimes played in the role of a forward, hasn’t played the role either, leading to Mohammedan drawing or losing games they could have won. That’s why Vicuna emphasized on Saturday how important it is to convert the chances they get. “We have to take the chances we get and try to score first,” he said flatly. While he admitted that wasting chances gives him a headache, the Spain coach claimed his side are improving. “We’ve improved in the last two games. We were the better team, especially in the last game,” was his opinion. “I’m happy with how the players work on the training ground. The trick is to keep believing in ourselves. The results will come.” Vicuna’s colleague Bonet spoke highly of the opponents. “Mohammedan Sporting are a good side and shouldn’t be judged by their position in the table,” he observed. “They’re not there because they played badly. Sometimes they were unlucky and sometimes they didn’t finish very well,” he explained. It’s only natural that Bonet would be suspicious of a team like this, not to mention his own problems. Sergio Mendigutxia at the front was great one day and wasteful another. Bouba Aminou and Pawan Kumar’s defense also made occasional blunders, the best example of which was Luka Majcen’s failed offside trap in the last game, which led to Pawan’s own goal. Such mistakes will prove more costly as the League draws to a close. “We’ve missed the last part of the game in the last couple of games,” said Bonet. “Often we created more chances than the opponent but didn’t convert.” Midfielder Thahir Zaman supported his coach, saying Mohammedan and Gokulam have the same problems, adding: “If both teams manage to stay clinical, they can.” we hope for a nice game tomorrow.” (ANI)
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