AFC Cup: Mohun Bagan to field depleted side against South China

Guwahati, May 10 (IANS) Unbeaten Mohun Bagan are likely to field a second string side when they take on Hong Kong’s South China AA in their final group phase match of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup here on Wednesday.

Mohun Bagan had thumped South China 4-0 away at Hong Kong earlier.

The hosts have already qualified for the last-16 stage as Group G winners.

Mohun Bagan are unbeaten in the tournament so far with 11 points from five matches and will play the Round-of-16 match at home on May 24 against the runners-up of Group E.

South China are second in Group G with 6 points from 5 matches and a win will ensure their qualification to the next round.

With their berth already secured, Mohun Bagan are set to rest some of their stars.

Goalkeeper Debjit Majumdar, defenders Kingshuk Debnath and Dhanachandra Singh and midfielder Pronay Haldar are unlikely to feature in the game. Even star strikers Cornell Glen and Sony Norde are set to sit out the tie.

Focus will be on Mohun Bagan coach Sanjoy Sen’s tactics and combination. Despite fielding a deliberately weakened side he would be willing to advance from the group stage undefeated.

Sanjoy has said his team would still play to win though the tie is inconsequential for them.

He would ideally want his fringe players to rise to the occasion and give a good account of themselves to force their way into the first team.

Mohun Bagan will look towards India international Jeje Lalpekhlua, already with 18 strikes this season, for goals.

Defenders Sanjay Balmuchu and Shouvik Ghosh are expected to take the field in place of Kingshuk and Dhanachandra.

South China have a lot of pace and have the ability to take Mohun Bagan by surprise with their swift counter-attacks.

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