The Red and Gold are looking to win a maiden crown in the tournament…
East Bengal FC will begin their I-League 2017 campaign against Mizoram-based Aizawl FC in their I-League season opener at Barasat Stadium on saturday. Both the teams were part of the prestigious tournament last season and finished in third and eighth place respectively.
The Red and Gold brigade are being counted among the top contenders for the title this season after a busy transfer window whereas a comparatively young Aizawl squad is also expected to cause trouble to the bigger teams in their quest for glory. The Mizoram based club pulled off some miracle performances last season and with new head coach Khalid Jamil at the helm, they are expected by many to continue their upswing.
East Bengal missed out on their first-ever I-League trophy last season with a 7-point gap with champions Bengaluru FC. The Red and Gold brigade are in fine form on the back of their seventh consecutive Calcutta Football League title. While injury concerns are bound to put Trevor Morgan’s men in a tricky situation, they are expected to perform well.
East Bengal have some major fitness issues in their dressing room with veteran defender Arnab Mondal being sidelined with a long term injury. Other first-team members such as Bikash Jairu and Robert Lalthlamuana are also out with injuries.
Aizawl on the other hand have a clean bill of health going into the first game of the season.
Head to Head
East Bengal edges over Khalid Jamil’s team in terms of past encounters. The two teams have met on two different occasions till date, both being in the I-League last season. East Bengal have won both of the matches..
Man to Watch
Wedson Anselme-East Bengal FC: The former Dhanmondi striker is expected to be one of the best forwards in the I-League this year. According to teammate Mehtab Hossain if Wedson can play upto his standards as he did for Dhanmondi, East Bengal will cause problems to their opponents. The Haitian international offers quick movement, both on and off the ball, finishing and tracking back abilities which will come in handy for the Kolkata giants.
Mahmoud Amnah-Aizawl FC: The Syrian midfielder is expected to make a lot of noise playing for Aizawl FC this season. The 33-year old has 78 international caps for his country. The midfielder has also played for Salgaocar in the I-League previously which will help him control the tempo of the game quickly.
East Bengal FC (4-4-2): Rehenesh, Jackichand Singh, Rowlin Borges, Anwar Ali, Rahul Bheke, Mohammed Rafique, Mehtab Hossain, Wedson Anselme, Nikhil Pujari, Narayan Das, Robin Gurung.
Aizawl FC (4-4-2): Albino Gomes, Ralte, Kingsley, Lalruatthara, Lalrinzuala, Asutosh Mehta, Jayesh, Amnah, Brandon, Bayi, Alfred.
The game will be broadcast live on Ten Sports 2 at 04:30 pm IST. You can also follow live commentary of the game on www.khelnow.com