Kolkata, Feb 6: Indian heavyweights Mohun Bagan who have a one-goal advantage will look to seal the playoff berth when they face a depleted Colombo FC in the return leg AFC Cup South Asia Zone football fixture, here tomorrow, February 7.
Mohun Bagan beat Colombo FC 2-1
The Sri Lanka Premier League champions have suffered a huge blow as three of their foreigners in the roster, defender Nasiru Opeyemi, midfielder Seka Jean Yapo and striker Afeez Olofin -- could not travel with the team because of visa hurdles.
"It's a big loss for me. They are integral members of the side manning the defense, midfield as well as the forward line. We have to make our planning afresh," Mohamed Roomy Hassan told a news conference on the eve of their match.
"The Nigerian defender is a tall guy with a lot of experience. We will miss him sorely."
However, the coach, who had played in Kolkata during the 1996 AFC Cup, said the Ivory Coast midfielder Yapo would join the side tomorrow morning.
"He's got the clearance and he's joining tomorrow morning. The High Commission has laws denying entry to Nigerians, from Sri Lanka," he said.
Facing a must-win situation by at least two goal margin, he said: "We need goals to survive in this tournament. We have to press for goals in earlier stages, say by first 25 minutes.
"Attack is the only option. We have come prepared. Of course, we are confident. We are positive to pull off a win."
With around 72 hours left for the second leg fixture, Colombo FC suffered the jolt when the trio were denied Visas.
"We got to know about this the day before we were scheduled to leave," president of Colombo FC Saif Yusoof said.
"We are hopeful of getting visa for Yapo, who is from Ivory Coast, and if we get it he will join the team," Yusoof added.
The Sri Lankan outfit now will have to bank on striker Zarwan Johar and midfielder EB Channa, who had played for Dempo SC in 2002-03 as their task will be cut out.
Mohun Bagan, on the other hand, will be bolstered by the return of their Haitian superstar Sony Norde who was rested for a hamstring injury in their last round match.
Their Scottish recruit Darry Duffy is in sublime form and became the I-League leading scorer in their 3-2 win against Aizawl FC in the last round.
The Scot along with Jeje Lalpekhlua will look to put the rival defence under pressure while Katsumi Yusa will be pulling the strings in the midfield.
Mohun Bagan had secured a 2-1 win over the Sri Lankan outfit in the first leg on January 31 to hand themselves a valuable advantage.
In what was to prove an entertaining first half, Bagan's Kean Lewis opened the scoring in the 13th minute with a fine header, but the Sri Lankan hosts roared back courtesy of Afeez Olofin's equalising goal some 30 minutes into the game.
The Kolkata giants were to bag a winner in the second half with Sehnaj Singh finding the net on 70 minutes.
Colombo FC are the reigning Sri Lanka Premier League champions and have won their Football Association (FA) Cup Championship defeating Blue Star SC 1-0 in the final.