East Bengal football club will take to the field against a young Indian Arrows side at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Calcutta on Friday. The home side will aim to get back to winning ways and reduce the gap at the top of the I league table
The home side lost to leaders Chennai City FC in their last encounter on the road 2-1, are placed sixth in the points table with 19 points from 11 games.
A win against Arrows could take them to third replacing Real Kashmir (22 points from 12 matches) who besides having the points advantage are also better on goal difference (+8) than East Bengal (+5).
Indian Arrows, placed eighth with 13 points from 12 outings, will look to avenge their defeat in the first leg at Cuttack. The All India Football Federation (AIFF) developmental side returned to winning ways in their last fixture against wooden spooners Shillong Lajong.
Therefore, home team coach Alejandro Menendez will know that his team won’t have an easy outing on the morrow.
On the eve of the game, the Spaniard said the team will go all out as they need to build confidence ahead of the all important Kolkata Derby on January 27.
“We will go for three points tomorrow (Friday). We need it to build confidence before the derby: The team will be more confident for the game if we can get three points. But we will go step by step,” he said.
“Arrows is a good team and it will be a tough match for us. They are strong and very competitive.”
The hosts will miss the services of Lalrindika Ralte and his set-piece ability after the experienced midfielder picked up a red card in the previous match.
Costa Rican defender Johnny Acosta is on the verge of suspension, having accumulated three yellow cards. Another card in this game could rule him out of the derby. But Menendez is not worried.
“We will put another player in his (Ralte) place. We have players who can take set pieces. Lets see who can deliver in his absence,” he stated. “We will try to avoid Acosta getting a card. If he gets one, we will field another player.”
Asked about East Bengal’s title aspirations which suffered a body blow after their defeat to Chennai, the coach said he is still hopeful of a comeback.
“Yes, we are still in the hunt for the league title. There are many matches to play and some are between the teams who are fighting for the league. So if we play well, we have a chance.
“Against Chennai, we played well and our performance was good. But we need to play like how we played in the first few matches.”
Indian Arrows coach Floyd Pinto, on the other hand, said they will give a better account of themselves than the last time.
“We played East Bengal only 10 days ago. So, irrespective of what happened in the games after that, the memories from the particular match are still fresh. So we believe we can come up with a much better performance in Kolkata,” he said.
“We play every game in the I-League to win, whether it be against East Bengal or any other team.”
“I’m very happy with the performances of the boys. We have evolved tactically and there was a big difference in the way we played Shillong Lajong in the previous match and before that in the reverse fixture. To beat them 3-0 and control the game like they did was very heartening to see. I think these boys will not disappoint.”