Mohun Bagan Super Giant assistant coach Manuel Cascallana feels excited as they prepare for the League Shield decider at home against Mumbai City FC in the Indian Super League (ISL) at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata on Monday.

The Mariners currently sit two points behind table toppers Mumbai City FC with 45 points from their 21 matches in the ongoing ISL season. The home team need three points to secure the Shield while a draw will be enough for the Islanders to win the Shield for a second straight season. 

With the top spot at stake in the final match of the league season, Mohun Bagan SG will be desperate to get their hands on their first-ever League Shield.

The assistant coach feels at an advantage to have had the most important game of the season at home in front of their home supporters. 

“Of course, it's an advantage (to play in front of the fans). One hundred percent, it's an advantage. We play at home and we play with our people, and for sure they will make sure that the atmosphere is better for us than for them. So we are really happy and excited to play in our stadium, in our city with full support,” stated Cascallana at the pre-match press conference.

The last time when the two sides met during the reverse fixture back in December 2023, in the first half of the ISL 2023-24 season, Mumbai City FC recorded a 2-1 win. But more than the action on the field, the match saw a record seven red cards being brandished. 

On being asked if the team is going to keep their cool this time with the stakes higher than ever, Cascallana shared, “We are excited, and we are going to fight for ninety minutes. But being smart like we were in Bangaluru four days ago, not going from the first minute and leaving our back with no defenders.” 

“We know we need to win. Draw or losing is not going to give us the seat and our target is (to win) the Shield here in front of our people. So we are not going to be calm because it's not a match to be calm, but we are going to be smart,” he added.

Mohun Bagan SG have been winless against Mumbai City FC in ISL history. In the past eight meetings between the two sides the Islanders have secured six wins while two matches have ended in a draw. Mumbai City FC have already bettered their points tally from last season where they won the Shield. Cascallana had high praise for his opponents and expects a tough challenge. 

“You know they have a really good squad, really good players. They are unbeaten.. over ten games, or something like that. So these are tough rivals. They have been in first position or second position since we arrived here.”

Anticipating an interesting match to conclude the league stage, he continued, “We are going to prepare well for the match, to stop them and also they have to stop us. So it's going to be an interesting match tomorrow (on Monday).”

Midfield general Joni Kauko returned to Mohun Bagan SG in February 2024, after a two-year hiatus where he didn't play professional football. Since his inclusion in the squad, the Finnish player has made ten appearances, scoring a goal and providing four assists in the process. Cascallana was confident that the experience of a player like Kauko in big matches such as these will help the team. 

The 40-year-old commented, “Of course, it's an advantage to have Joni with us, one hundred percent. Joni has played these types of matches several times in his life. He’s not new in this or football, and he has been in big scenarios playing against big rivals and big supporters. So it's a huge advantage. Counting on him for tomorrow's match.”

I am really confident at the moment: Joni Kauko

Kauko accompanied Cascallana to the press conference. The Finnish midfielder does not believe that the previous encounter between the two teams will have any effect on the match on Monday. 

“When you're playing for the Shield, you're playing for something big and it's only one game. So I don't think anything else, what happened previously, matters that much because it's only one game. It's 90 minutes. So. So, yeah. I'm hoping we will have a good game. Especially when we're playing home,” stated Kauko. 

He added, “So yeah, I'm really confident at the moment.”

The 33-year-old shared also his excitement for the upcoming game. 

“I think it's two of the best teams in the league that will face tomorrow (Monday) in the one last game fighting for the Shield. I am really excited,” he stated.