I-League: East Bengal vs Bengaluru FC Preview

Sunday, 22 January 2017|Sunil A. Markal
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East Bengal and Bengaluru FC will lock horns in a feisty battle at the Vidyasagar Krirangan, Barasat on a Super Sunday. The home side can surpass the Blues with a win, while a victory for the Champions could see them extend their 100% record to four games.

Previous games:

The Red and Yellow Brigade convincingly defeated Churchill Brothers 0-2 in Goa thanks to goals from Thongkhosiem Haokip and Ivan Bukenya. The Blues, meanwhile, humbled Mumbai FC 3-0 at home through a CK Vineeth hattrick.

Traveling: The away side flew from Bangalore yesterday afternoon, covering approximately 1600 kms in two and a half hours.

Team morale: After faltering to a draw in their opener, back-to-back wins has East Bengal full of confidence. The away side might have a little more boost of the same, having started like Champions with 3 straight wins.

Preparations: East Bengal have been training at The Maidan, while the Blues trained today at the Barasat Stadium.

Manager quotes:

East Bengal gaffer Trevor Morgan knows the importance of a win after his side started with a stutter, but acknowledged it won’t be easy.

“It's very important to win. We didn't make the best of starts which made the two away wins really important. Seven points from three games is okay.”

“Tomorrow's game is a challenge for us and it's probably going to be a challenge for the opposition as well. They've had three home games to start with and won them comfortably but hopefully, we'll them a stronger test tomorrow. The same will happen to us because they are a good side.”

Despite winning three games on the trot, Bengaluru coach Albert Roca refused to get carried away, citing the importance of an away win.

“It is true that we have won three games in a row but an away game changes things. East Bengal are a tough side with some very good players and we’ll have to be better than we were before if we are to take anything away from this game.”

“It is always a tough challenge when you play away. You lose a day because of travel and the players are a little tired. But it is very important to overcome this and perform well when on the road. I don’t want the players to think that everything is won with the results from these three games. We have more difficult opponents to face and we have to try our best to maintain our momentum away from home.”

Injury/Suspensions: The home side were forced to withdraw Anwar Ali with a groin trouble in the last game, and might not make it. Young Abhinas Ruidas will be unavailable tomorrow as he faces disciplinary sanctions from the club for his antics in Goa.

The Blues, meanwhile, have Sandesh Jhingan added to the injured list of Rino Anto, Lalthuammawia Ralte, Keegan Pereira, Salam Ranjan Singh and Lalchhuanmawia, and the new signing has not traveled.

No suspension headache for either side.

Predicted starting XI:

East Bengal (4-1-2-1-2): Rehenesh; Bheke, Gurwinder, Bukenya, Das; Mehtab; Poojary, Ralte; Wedson; Plaza, Amirov.

Trevor Morgan might introduce his Kyrgyz signing Ildar Amirov, thus starting with all four of his foreigners. He will replace Thongkosiem Haokip, East Bengal’s goalscorer against Churchill.

Bengaluru FC (4-3-3/3-4-3): Amrinder; Khabra, Johnson, Juanan, Ralte; Lyngdoh, Watson, Lenny; Udanta, Vineeth, Chhetri.

Nishu Kumar started for Sena Ralte at left-back in the Blues’ last game, but the latter will resume his services of Sunday. Expect no other tinkering from the Spanish boss.

Prediction: 1-1

Both sides have the firepower score goals, but have equally quality defences. The Blues, though, have a slightly upper hand when it comes to shutting down attackers. Both sides might eventually be happy with a solitary point.