The McDowell Mohun Bagan Team arrived at Kuwait City in the early morning hours of 19th April 2009 to participate in the AFC Cup 2009 Group D away match against Kuwait Sports Club. The team is as follows: Sangram, Shilton, Rahul Kumar, Manju, Dipak, Vashan, Mohanraj, Habibur, Ishfaq, James Sr., Lalkamal, Rakesh, Lalramluah, Marcos, Barreto, Branco and Lalampuia. Bhaichung and Odafe is not part of the team due to injury.
Mohun Bagan had a light training session from 5:30 pm onwards yesterday for about 75 minutes at a training ground just adjacent to the Kuwait Stadium; home of Kuwait SC and the venue for the match.
The Team then went to a get together organized by Bengal Cultural Society. The Team received a warm welcome and applause from the members and their families present and was made to feel totally at home in a country where petrol is cheaper than mineral water. Mr. Anjan Kumar Mitra, Head of the Delegation was presented a replica of the DHOW (traditional Arab sailing wooden boat with mast). These boats were used by the Kuwaitis during ancient period to trade with India. They used to carry pearls to India and bring back spices from India. It was all the more befitting since it reminded us of the country boat with green and maroon sails that is the logo of the Club. A replica of the Kuwait Tower was also presented to Mr. Mitra. On behalf of the entire Team, Mr. Mitra thanked the Bengal Cultural Society for their generosity. It is hoped that quite a number of Indians especially members of this Society would be present at the Stadium for the match to cheer the Team.
The pre match Press Conference was conducted at 11:30 am at the Kuwait Stadium itself. It was attended by Head Coach, Mr. Karim Bencherifa and player, Sangram Mukherjee from our team and by Coach, Laurent Banide and player, Garah Al Ataqy from Kuwait SC. Garah is the vice captain of the Team and a midfielder.
At the press conference, Mr. Bencherifa pointed that that McDowell Mohun Bagan was unlucky to be on 0 points in the AFC Cup even after three good performances against teams from West Asia who are well built and therefore hold an edge in the body contact game. He also mentioned that it had a very busy season for the players who were having to play many matches and do quite a bit of traveling. He also pointed out the fact that his team had beaten Dempo SC on all three occasions this season inspite of the fact that Dempo is doing great in the AFC Cup.
Mr. Bencherifa also said that the Team had nothing to lose and everything to win. He said that Kuwait SC are a good team and will be a stronger side than the Kolkata match and hence it would be a difficult game and the Team will rise to the occasion.
Sangram Mukherjee said that the Team was a young side and all the players are motivated and will give their best in the match tomorrow.
Kuwait SC Coach, Laurent Banide echoed the views of his counterpart. He mentioned that even his Team had a tough schedule and rued the fact that they lost the National League title on the very last game and became runners-up just like Mohun Bagan. He recalled how needing a win in the last match; even his GK had moved to the rival penalty box in a desperate bid to score and conceded a goal in the resultant counter attack. He said that his players were a bit upset and he felt that it was good that the AFC Cup match was just round the corner so it would give the boys an occasion to bounce back. He appreciated that the visiting team has a solid compact organized team and he was expecting a tough game.
Player of Kuwait SC, Garah said that the Team was representing the country as well and so it was imperative to perform well in the game tomorrow since it would reflect the image of Kuwaiti football. He also stressed the need to end top of the group in the AFC Cup since round of 16 is a one-match affair with the group champion playing runners-up of the other group at home.
The McDowell Mohun Bagan Team had a training session from 7 pm onwards for about 60 minutes today at the venue (Kuwait Stadium).
COURTESY: www.mohunbaganac.com (official website of Mohun Bagan club)