The title challenge will be thrown open if Aizawl manage to grab the three points against the current league leaders…
Being back from a disastrous last season in the top flight league, Aizawl FC has proved to be a worthy adversary in the 10th edition of the I-League this season whenever they have played. The Mizoram-based club appointed former Mumbai FC Coach Khalid Jamil as their head coach at the beginning of the season and is currently enjoying a decent run in the league.
The Reds are currently positioned at third place on the league table with 17 points and will be looking forward to no less than three points against the league leaders in the upcoming game which will put them only one point behind both East Bengal and Mohun Bagan and will re-open their title chances in the ongoing season.
League leaders East Bengal is currently facing a tough time in their I-League campaign as the Kolkata giants are without a win in their last two games. The Red and Gold Brigade had salvaged one point in the prestigious Kolkata derby against arch-rivals Mohun Bagan followed by another draw against northerners Shillong Lajong FC in the last round.
Despite being at the top of the league standings, East Bengal will look forward to be back to the winning ways, considering Mohun Bagan, who are second in the points table snatched a win over DSK Shivajians yesterday and if Aizawl FC manages to win three points against them, it will create a hard vacuum for Trevor Morgan’s men in their road to title glory.
Aizawl FC is not having any injury concerns as well and expected to line-up the same as it was against Bengaluru FC in the previous match. Khalid Jamil has always been hesitant to experiment with a positive formation and is expected to start with the last match-day squad against East Bengal at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium.
On the other hand, East Bengal will be missing the likes of Cavin Lobo, Bikash Jairu and Anwar Ali against Aizawl FC on Wednesday with injuries. However, the Red and Gold Brigade does not have any suspensions to be concerned about, which comes as a welcome news for Head Coach Trevor Morgan for the clash against Aizawl FC on Monday.
Head to head
East Bengal edges over Khalid Jamil’s team in terms of past encounters. The two teams have met on three different occasions till now. East Bengal has won two out of the three matches against Aizawl FC while the remaining encounter ended in a draw.
Khalid Jamil (Aizawl FC coach): “It will be a tough match tomorrow, all players will have to give their best if we want to have a positive result tomorrow.”
Trevor Morgan (East Bengal FC coach): “We are not expecting anything less than a tough game from Aizawl FC tomorrow. Aizawl FC are having a fantastic season.”
Man to watch
Jayesh Rane (Aizawl FC)
The 23-year-old Aizawl FC forward has been a revelation to the Aizawl squad this season. Rane, an enthusiastic and visionary playmaker has helped the Reds to build up attacks as well as tracking back to defend against the opposition counter attacks. A Mumbai FC academy product, Rane was groomed under the guidance of Khalid Jamil and has scored two goals in eight outings in the current I-League season.
Ivan Bukenya (East Bengal)
The Ugandan defender had joined the Kolkata giants in the last transfer window and is already being regarded as one of the best center backs in the country. Bukenya, who scored the equalizing goal against Aizawl FC in East Bengal’s opening fixture against the Northern club in the earlier phase has scored several important goals and his mentality going forward will pose a severe threat to the hosts’ defense in terms of aerial balls. Being a sloppy runner, Bukenya compensates his pace with a much-needed physicality at the back.
Aizawl FC (4-4-2)
Gomes, Ashutosh Mehta, Kingsley Eze, Zohmingliana Ralte, Lalruatthara, Albert Zohmingmawia, Mahmoud Al-Amna, Alfred Jaryan, H. Lalmuankima, Stephane Kamo Bayi, Jayesh Rane
East Bengal (4-1-3-2)
Rehenesh (GK), Bheke, Bukenya, Mondal, Das, Mehtab, Poojary, Ralte, Wedson, Payne, Plaza.
Ten 2 telecasts the game on Wednesday at 02:00 pm IST. You can also read Khel Now’s live commentary.