Bagan cautious

Calcutta: On another day, McDowell Mohun Bagan would have focused more on bettering their goal average against United Sikkim FC, who have been the punching bags of this I-League so far.

But given the predicament Bagan find themselves in at present, every move aga-inst the United Sikkim on Thursday, at the Salt Lake Stadium, has to be made very carefully.

Coach Karim Bencharifa, however, is sensible enough to accept the current scenario as he knows that the only way Bag-an can move up from here is by looking forward, instead of recalling the recent past.

"I've told the players not to look at the league table since it may create tension, leading to a demoralising effect over the entire squad," the Moroccan said.

Just what they desperately wanted to avoid, Bagan were brushed aside in their comeback game against Salgaocar SC post the over-turning of their suspension.

The All India Football Federation (AIFF) then stayed the suspension on Nigerian striker Okolie Odafe for three matches, with an additional penalty of Rs 1,50,000.

On Wednesday, the Mohun Bagan captain blasted Vishnu Chauhan, the referee for the December 9 I-League Derby, calling him a 'liar.'

"That referee is a liar. Neither did I touch the referee, nor hurled abuses at him (that day). And I didn't even point towards his eyes.

"I'm sure that liar will be punished. It's high time for a separate disciplinary committee for referees as well," Odafe said on the sidelines of Bagan's training session, on Wednesday.

Odafe stressed on appointing matured match officials in order to avoid major trouble and other disruptions during high-voltage encounters.

"It's not that all Indian referees are bad. He (Chauhan) was one of those rare cases. I feel matured referees should officiate in big matches," he pointed out.

At present, all that Odafe is concerned with is playing his role to pull Bagan out of the hapless situation. "There's no other way but to accept the (AIFF) verdict. But I'm focused more on fighting it out for my team. It's tough for us from hereon, especially after our loss to Salgaocar.

"Nonetheless, our coach is doing his best to bring everyone together and motivate them. We're just going through a bad phase," he said.

Talking about his pairing with Tolgay Ozebe up front, Odafe said: "The more we play together, the better will be the understanding between Tolgay and myself."

Bencharifa may position Syed Rahim Nabi up front alongside Tolgay against United Sikkim. Snehasish Chakraborty could play as the left-back in place of Biswajit Saha.

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