Mohun Bagan will look to cap off their fairytale season with a historic treble as they face Mumbai City FC in the ISL summit clash at Salt Lake Stadium, with 62,000 partisan fans expected to cheer their guts out and paint the stands in green and maroon, creating an electrifying atmosphere here on Saturday. The season began with the Mariners winning the Durand Cup for the first time after 23 years. Having slipped to fifth in the table at midway stage, Antonio Habas took over from Juan Ferrando and led them to their maiden League Winners Shield.

Two weeks after they defeated Mumbai City FC 2-1 to win their maiden Shield, the two teams will return to the same venue of Salt Lake Stadium with an aim to complete a rare double in the ISL and a hattrick of titles in one season.

As per noted football statistician Hari Prasad Chattopadhyay, the last time Mohun Bagan won three titles or more was more than 23 years back when they had won the erstwhile National Football League (NFL), Federation Cup, Calcutta Premier Division League, Sikkim Gold Cup and Bordoloi Trophy. The coach was India captain Sunil Chhetri’s father-in-law Subroto Bhattacharyya.

Mumbai City FC have done it before in 2020-21 and the stage will be set for Mohun Bagan to follow suit.

“Statistics have no relevance. We have to continue playing well and complete the circle,” the 66-year-old Spanish tactician said in the pre-match media interaction.

Three years back, Mohun Bagan had squandered a 1-0 lead to to suffer a 1-2 defeat against the same team at the ISL final held in Margao, which was played behind closed doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

But revenge is not on Habas’ minds.

“I’m not about revenge; that’s stuff you see in movies or with the mafia. It’s just another game against tough opponents, and it’s going to be a great show for the ISL,” Habas said.

The target however is to finish the game in “45 minutes”, said Habas making it clear that he will go allout in attack with Anirudh Thapa, Jason Cummings, Dimitri Petratos and Manvir Singh.

Asked about this strategy, he said: “To finish it in 45 minutes.” “Obviously we don’t want to go to extra team. It’s hot out there so better to finish it in 90 minutes.” The 66-year-old, who has two ISL titles one Winners Shield making him the most successful coach of the top-tier league, futher said he’s in the fag-end of his career.

“I’m in the final stage of my coaching career and it’s a proud moment for me.” Mohun Bagan’s attack will be boosted by a fit-again India midfielder Sahal Abdul Samad who came off the bench to strike the winning goal against Odisha FC in the return leg ISL semi-final.

While Sahal will be fit, Armando Sadiku will miss the match.

Mumbai City on the other hand will bank of Vikram Pratap Singh and Lallianzuala Chhangte, while their Dutch midfielder Yoell van Nieff will miss out because of suspension.

“For last four years, ISL battle is all about Mumbai and Mohun Bagan who are fighting for this Shield and Trophy. The recipe for our success has been to stay together and play together. When the season began, we were a group, now we have become a family and we have to play like one.” Mohun Bagan have frequently struggled to maintain their lead and have conceded goals due to defensive lapses, a vulnerability that Mumbai City FC head coach Petr Kratky will surely be mindful of and seized the momentum.

“Players want to play in front of packed stadium, I think it will be an extra motivation to do well,” he said.

He further said losing the Shield was difficult. “We knew what was at stake, it’s always hard. We tried to regroup put ourselves together. A couple of training sessions the spirit was little down, but now we are good to continue.”

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