Mohun Bagan Super Giant will host Hyderabad FC in the Indian Super League (ISL) to round off the Saturday doubleheader at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan Stadium in Kolkata. After losses against FC Goa and Odisha FC, Hyderabad FC face another mounting challenge against one of the strongest sides in the competition.

The Thangboi Singto-coached side has been fielding a very young line-up in the last couple of games, and the responsibility is on them to ensure a more inspired performance in the second half of the campaign compared to the first one. Ahead of the game against the Gaurs, Singto acknowledged that he has embraced a positive outlook towards the whole situation, seeing this as an opportunity to do something special with an inexperienced squad at his disposal.

This match in Kolkata is an ideal chance to do the same, though it can be argued that the misfiring Mariners might have found their footing back after the late equaliser by Dimitrios Petratos helped them bag a point from the high-octane Kolkata Derby.

The sheer individual quality in their squad stood up just when it looked like the Red & Gold Brigade would emerge triumphant in the clash. Antonio Lopez Habas will be keen and confident to bag his first ISL win since his return to the helm of the club, and they will thus want to pounce upon the exploding concerns of Hyderabad FC for the same.

What’s at stake?

Mohun Bagan Super Giant

The Mariners (20) are 10 points behind the top-placed Odisha FC (30), but they also played three fewer games (11) than the Juggernauts (14). Thus, they have ample time to bridge the gap between them and the likes of Odisha FC and FC Goa, though, the losses they succumbed to in December must have suggested otherwise. They had capped off a convincing 2-0 victory over them in the reverse fixture in December and hence will be expecting a similarly comfortable outing this time around.

However, complacency isn’t something associated with Habas’ squads, hence he will be keeping the players on their toes to tick the boxes irrespective of the opposition. The Mariners have remarkable attacking potential in their roster and they will thus be eager to put on a show for their home fans. Anyways, they are winless in their last four ISL games, and will thus be hoping to get that crucial victory under their belt to get a positive momentum underway again.

Hyderabad FC

We are into the sixth month of the season and Hyderabad FC are still looking for their first win in the ISL 2023-24. They wear a fresh look altogether, with youngsters hoping to make a mark in the coming few games. Regardless of the results, Singto is someone who understands the pulse of these players, and given some time, he can mould them to play his way.

The focus right now must be to get their basics right and find a way to neutralise the Mohun Bagan Super Giant team that can really get rolling if they get in the groove. Having been winless in their last eight games, another such game will mean that Hyderabad FC will have their longest run of matches without a victory in the ISL. They have been ceding control of games towards the end of matches, conceding eight goals in the final 15 minutes of their games. Considering that MBSG have a host of prolific players that they can bring off from the bench, the fag end of the game could put up a challenging picture for the visitors.

Key Players

Anirudh Thapa (Mohun Bagan Super Giant)

Anirudh Thapa and his high-profile switch to the Mohun Bagan Super Giant haven’t delivered rich dividends yet. The midfielder was expected to be the engine at the centre of the park for the Mariners, despite averaging 83.4 minutes on the field in the 10 appearances he has made this season. He has been consistently engaged in the flow of the game, making an average of 41 passes per game. Thapa has made 17 interceptions in this campaign so far, and though his role has been limited to deep inside the midfield, he certainly has the potential to be involved in a greater capacity higher up on the field. This clash against Hyderabad FC gives him the ideal opportunity to try out his skills in the frontline.

Makan Chothe (Hyderabad FC)

The attacking midfielder has been deployed in a crucial role by Singto in the last couple of matches. He plays in an important pocket of space behind the striker, hovering around the frontline, connecting the centre of the park to the forward line, and essentially being the source of creativity for the Hyderabad FC attacking unit. He restricts his involvement in the final third, playing only 10 passes on an average per game this season, constantly looking to break through the opposition’s defensive unit. The 24-year-old has assumed an important role since the departure of Mohammed Yasir to FC Goa, and whether he can fill the boots of the former will go a long way in determining their results in the coming set of matches.

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Head-to-Head

Played – 11

Mohun Bagan Super Giant – 5

Hyderabad FC – 2

Draws – 4

Trivia: Hyderabad FC (along with Bengaluru FC) are the only teams yet to score from outside the box this season.

Team Talk

“Hyderabad FC have a lot of young players and it’s difficult to win all matches like that because every game has different challenges across 90 minutes. We will compete to win and we have total respect for all the opposition,” Mohun Bagan Super Giant head coach Antonio Lopez Habas said.

“We are working hard in training. Our fans deserve more and we need to give it to them. The last two matches, young boys have performed well and we are focusing on the coming matches now,” Hyderabad FC assistant coach Shameel Chembakath said in the pre-match press conference.

ISL Fantasy

Dimitrios Petratos (11cr)

The most remarkable goal-scorer from MBSG ranks

Subhasish Bose (4.7Cr)

Guaranteed, consistent contributions in the backline

Gurmeet Singh (4cr)

A safe shot-stopper who will be tested by the MBSG forwards

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Where to Watch

Fans across the country can catch the action in English, Hindi, Bengali, and Malayalam. Fans can watch the action on linear channels like Sports18 Khel (Hindi), Sports18 1 HD (English), Sports18 3 SD (English, Hindi, Malayalam and Bengali), VH1 SD & HD (English), Surya Movies (Malayalam), News 18 Kerala (Malayalam – select matches) & DD Bangla (Bengali). Fans can also catch the action streaming Live for free on JioCinema, the home of Indian football. In addition to this, as part of FSDL’s partnership with OneFootball, ISL live streams and highlights of all matches of the upcoming 2023-24 season will be delivered across more than 190 countries.