Mohun Bagan will look to consolidate their position atop the points standings in their bid for a second title when they face Punjab FC in a top-of-the-table I-League clash here on Sunday.
Mohun Bagan, the 2014-15 champions, who will play as a merged team with ATK in Indian Super League from 2020-21, have a healthy six-point lead over Punjab at the halfway stage.
Unbeaten in eight matches, the Kolkata giants can retain their six-point lead by simply avoiding a defeat, but it is Punjab who cannot afford to lose and fall nine points behind.
"This is a nine-point game for us," Punjab FC head coach Yan Law said on the eve of the match.
"We need to win and bring the gap to three points. A draw will also not satisfy us."
The Punjab outfit have bolstered their squad with the likes of former India defender Nirmal Chettri, attacking midfielder Alwyn George and former Mohun Bagan captain Eze Kingsley in their ranks.
"We've worked hard, signed some new players and stabilized the team even more. So we are going all out and make sure we take all three points from this fixture, and make us sure title contenders," Law added.
At the Mariners' camp, it has been sunny days as with every match, they have put up strong performances.
The league leaders were without the services of defender Daniel Cyrus in their 3-2 win over Chennai City in their last match.
His absence coincided with the team conceding two goals for the first time in eight games, since their last defeat (2-4) to Churchill Brothers in December last year.
Mohun Bagan head coach Kibu Vicuna provided an injury update on Cyrus and said, "He is feeling better with each passing day but we will reassess and he will play against Punjab only if he is at 100 per cent."
Speaking about their Sunday's challengers, he added, "Punjab is a very good team. They are playing some very good football and have some great individuals. It's going to be a tough match but we are ready for the challenge."
The stats make very good reading for Mohun Bagan.
In seven I-League encounters between the two sides, Mohun Bagan have won four and drawn two, losing just once.
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