Federation Cup 2017: East Bengal - The Best XI

Sunday, 7 May 2017|Chirayato Banerjee
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As the Federation Cup kick starts at Cuttack with the top 8 teams from the I-League, each of the teams will be aiming to give their best shot to land the trophy. East Bengal will take on Churchill Brothers in the inaugural fixture in the country’s one of the oldest tournaments.

East Bengal had announced their 22-man squad, one week prior to the commencement of the tournament. It sparked no surprises as injured Jackichand Singh was left out while the non-performing Australian Christopher Payne had been released. Of the 22 players, we take a look at the best starting eleven that assistant coach Ranjan Chaudhuri should field in the tournament.

GOALKEEPER

Subhasish Roy Chowdhury  

The former Atletico de Kolkata custodian had been signed by the Red and Golds as a backup to the promising TP Rehenesh. But since the departure of Trevor James Morgan, it is Roy Chowdhury who has provided assurance between the sticks. 

He had kept a clean sheet when East Bengal faced Churchill Brothers last time in the I-League. As a result, Roy Chowdhury should be given the nod ahead of the messy Rehenesh. If East Bengal wish to claim the trophy, they should work on the concession rate and prevent easy goals. The 30-year old seems to be in perfect nick to carry on the good work for the Calcutta giants.

DEFENDERS

Rahul Bheke

One of the familiar names of the East Bengal side, Rahul Bheke has weathered the initial storm, to etch a permanent spot in the starting XI of the current side. His long throws and imposing build make him an added threat in the attacking repertoire of the Red and Golds. Coupled with his clever man marking, Bheke is an important cog in the East Bengal wheel.

His consistent performances make him an indispensable asset for the depleted East Bengal side. With Robin Gurung injured, Bheke should be raring to steer his side to winning waters against Churchill Brothers.

Arnab Mondal

Another long serving member, Arnab Mondal has time and again proved his mettle in the centre-back position. He flourished in the Calcutta Football League but has not been able to seal a permanent berth in the I-League side this season. 

The Federation Cup should be his ideal platform to stage a comback under the tutelage of Ranjan Chaudhuri and manager Manoranjan Bhattacharya. He has been named the captain of the team and is destined to scale the zenith in the upcoming fixtures.

Ivan Bukenya

The Ugandan international has stamped his authority this season with his monumental presence in the defence. His uncanny knack of surging ahead in set pieces and scoring goals in crucial situations make him an ideal centre back for the Red and Golds.

His brawny stature imparts a psychological edge over the opponents who have failed to bottle up the 6’3” Ugandan in set plays. His calmness and astute positioning have made him infallible and he should be in the mix of things for the Red and Golds.

Narayan Das

After the non inclusion of Robert, the left back position has ony two options in the form of Narayan Das and Samad Ali Mallick. The more experienced Das should be deployed in the left wing, while the younger Samad can provide cover for the Indian international.

Das has been playing for the Calcutta club since the past few seasons. His understanding with the rest of the team provides the fillip to bolster the left channel for his side. Although, in recent times, his form has been dwindling, but the 23-year old has time on his side as he looks set to start for East Bengal in the 8-team tournament at Cuttack.

MIDFIELDERS

Lalrindika Ralte

Another household name for the Red and Golds, Ralte has been their feeder for goals from set pieces and open play. Born with an immaculate left foot, Ralte has the punch to belt in scorchers from distance. His brilliant passing play renders a formidable attacking threat when ably supported by the strikers.

With bags of experience, the 24-year old brings in an ingenious mix of attack and defence in the roving midfielder role. His ability to deliver incisive crosses puts him in a favourable position in the flanks as well.

Rowllin Borges

Indian international Borges burst onto the scene with his impressive display for the NorthEast United FC in the Indian Super League last season. Since then, there has been no looking back for the 24-year old as he made his international debut under the tutelage of Stephen Constantine.

His move to East Bengal was hailed as the breakthrough point for the Goan lad as he managed to retain the starting spot under immense pressure from the other probable. Consequently, Rowlin has owned the central midfield, partnering Mehtab Hossain effectively in the screening role.

Nikhil Poojary

The promising under-22 player had an injury history before he made his appearance for the Red and Golds in this season. But once he took the field, there was no looking back for the diminutive winger. Under the able guidance of Trevor James Morgan, Poojary flourished in the flanks and had been the creator of numerous attacks from the channels. He should not be overlooked by the management as the Maharashtra lad has what is required to shine in the top level of Indian football.

 Bikash Jairu

After being out for the entire season, Jairu was called on for the last few games of the I-league. He scored in both the games and marked a stellar comeback from injury. His impeccable form in the limited opportunities spoke volumes about his talent.

Jairu has the ability to assist in counter attacks or drop deep to counter the opposition’s movement. His burst of pace can leave the defenders hapless. 

His brilliant assist and a solo goal earned him the man of the match in the last match against Mumbai FC. In the Federation Cup, assistant coach Chaudhuri must bench Abinash Ruidas and give the in form Jairu a much needed start.

FORWARDS

Wedson Anselme

The 31-year old Haitian had a mesmerising debut in the Indian football scene, scoring 7 goals and heating up the race for the golden boot. His ability to run down the flanks or thread the final pass in the attacking third make him an obvious choice in the East Bengal attacking setup. Consequently, he is bound to retain his spot as the team embarks on the Federation Cup.

 Willis Deon Plaza

After a mid season injury scare, the Trinidad and Tobago international lost his sheen somewhat as he sturggled to find the back of the net. But in the last few matches, Plaza’s initial nimbleness was back on show as scored twice from open play.

After coming on as a substitute, barely 24 hours from his landing in the city, Plaza had won the hearts of the fans with his deft touches and impressive skill. But a niggle in the middle of the season affected his form as the title chase turned sour for the Red and Golds. However, since he appears to be back in form, it is high time Plaza starts every game for the Calcutta giants to help them seal the trophy.