Monday, June 17, 2024

Upbeat East Bengal ready for Pune challenge


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Kolkata: An upbeat East Bengal will aim for a hat-trick of victories when they take on a struggling Pune FC in a fifth round fixture of the I-League at the Yuba Bharati Krirangan here tomorrow.

With back-to-back wins after a shock defeat in the first round, the campaign of last year’s runners-up is back on track and coach Trevor James Morgan’s boys will look to capitalise on the new-found confidence.

The victories came at a time when they were struggling to come to terms with the absence of their inspirational playmaker Mehtab Hussain and defender Raju Gaikwad, the duo recovering from their respective injuries.

But a spectacular 4-1 win over Mumbai FC lifted their confidence as they registered a clinical 2-0 win over a spirited Shillong Lajong FC at home in the previous round.

A double yellow to Harmanjot Singh Khabra means that the East Bengal medio will have to sit out in what seems to be the only change to the line-up that will be led by Tolgay Ozbey and Baljit Singh Sahni.

Ozbey was lacklustre against Lajong but coach Morgan chose not to scrutinise his Australian forward.

The match will also give East Bengal a fine opportunity to improve their position in the table ahead of their November 20 high-voltage clash against Mohun Bagan who have two points more than their bitter-rivals.

East Bengal now have seven points from four games compared to Pune FC’s 5.

For Pune team, it’s redemption time as they try to pick up pieces after their crushing 1-5 defeat to Prayag United SC.

“The last game was a bad game and all I can say is that we need to defend well, be composed and alert while trying to cash in on the chances upfront,” the Pune FC coach Derrick Perreira said.

The good news for Pune FC is the availability of defenders Chika Wali and R Srikanth, something that will give some options to the coach in the the central defence.

The duo had served a one-match suspension in the earlier match.

Meanwhile, Sporting Clube de Goa will be looking forward to keep their winning momentum going when they lock horns againt Pailan Arrows at Nehru Stadium in Margao on Wednesday.

Sporting displayed lot of character against Lajong FC and Salgaocar, especially in the second half to come from behind and win against both teams which has placed them to fourth position with eight points from four matches.

Their defence which looked porous in the earlier matches, put up a solid performance against Salgaocar after the inclusion of Rogen Singh in the central defence.

Pailan Arrows are a young side who have lot of talent and skill to take the fight to the enemy camp but somehow lack the maturity and experience to fight till the end which resulted in conceding goals in their three defeats which placed them at the bottom with one point which they gained against lowly place HAL.

Their chance of notching their first win is compounded after Midfielder Tirthankar and striker Maslmwfela are absent due to national duty and playmaker S D’Silva is nursing an injury. (PTI)


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