The title contenders will be looking to make a statement of intent against the reigning champions…
Kolkata giants East Bengal seek to bolster their title quest when they take on defending champions Bengaluru FC on Sunday. Bengaluru, who began their I-League 2016-17 campaign with a perfect start are also looking forward to increasing their points tally against the Red and Gold brigade. The home team, however, is facing several injuries and suspension problems which are expected to hamper their chances against the visiting team.
East Bengal currently stand in third place in the points table, following their I-League fourth round opponents BFC who are on top and arch-rivals Mohun Bagan who are in second place. The Red and Gold brigade haVE one draw and two wins under their belt and will be looking to extend their winning streak to three consecutive games against the Blues.
East Bengal are set to miss defensive duo Arnab Mondal and Anwar Ali in the match against Bengaluru for injuries. Veteran midfielder Mehtab Hossain will also be unavailable to join the matchday squad as the 31-year old will be serving a suspension for two consecutive yellow cards picked up against DSK Shivajians and Churchill Brothers in the previous rounds. Bikash Jairu is injured while David Lalrinmuana is unavailable due to persnal reasons. The trio of Jackichand Singh, Abhinas Ruidas and Mohammed Rafique will also not feature, although the reason for their exclusion is unknown. Other key East Bengal players such as Narayan Das, Nikhil Poojary have a yellow card each under their belts and are expected to be used with caution against the defending champions on Sunday.
The visiting team, Bengaluru FC, does not carry any injured players currently which will allow Head Coach Albert Roca to choose his strongest side against the Kolkata giants. However, key players John Johnson, Harmanjot Khabra, Eugenson Lyngdoh and Cameron Watson have all been booked with a yellow card in their previous fixtures.
Head to Head
East Bengal have faced Bengaluru FC on seven different occasions till date, where they won four times compared to Bengaluru’s three wins. None of the matches were drawn. With the previous result, East Bengal hold an advantage over the Blues, however, Bengaluru are also eager to set the score straight.
Man to Watch
Wedson Anselme-East Bengal: East Bengal’s Haitian forward is expected to be the most important piece of the puzzle in Coach Trevor Morgan’s tactics against Bengaluru FC. The 30-year old versatile forward is expected to drop deep and play as the link between midfield and attack. Wedson’s passing ability, positional sense and movement both on and off the ball bring the much-needed calmness in East Bengal’s attack.
CK Vineeth-Bengaluru FC: The 28-year old Bengaluru forward had scored the first hat-trick of this season’s I-League in the previous round against an undefeated Mumbai FC. Now the unavailability of two of East Bengal’s first choice defenders in Arnab Mondal and Anwar Ali has set the stage for Vineeth to take the limelight for himself. The Kannur-born striker is going through a purple patch of his career and is expected to replicate his last match’s performance against the Red and Gold brigade as well.
East Bengal FC (4-3-1-2): Rehenesh, Bheke, Gurwinder, Bukenya, Das, Borges, Ralte, Poojary, Wedson, Haokip, Plaza.
Bengaluru FC (4-2-3-1): Amrinder, Khabra, Johnson, Juanan, Nishu, Rodrigues, Watson, Eugenson, Chhetri, Vineeth, Udanta.
The game will broadcast live on Ten 2 at 04:30 pm IST. You can also follow live commentary of the game on khelnow.com.