The friendlies are slated to be played on November 3rd and 9th respectively with venues yet to be decided…
The finalists of the second edition of the Hero ISL, FC Goa, who are currently busy in Spain with pre-season training and friendlies, have confirmed two friendlies after returning home against Kolkata giants East Bengal (November 3rd) and Mohun Bagan (November 9th) respectively. The venues are yet to be decided for these two matches to be played.
FC Goa are currently in Spain and have already played two friendlies in the last week against FC Cartagena that they lost 4-1 and Real Murcia 2-1 after giving strong fights in the second halves against the Spanish Segunda Division outfits. They will return to India by the end of October and put their final touch before the ISL season starts from November 17th.
East Bengal, on the other hand, are now training under coach Khalid Jamil and were looking for ISL opponents to play a few friendlies before the I-league starts from early-November, but were unable to find any as teams were busy in pre-season outside India. The Red and Gold team management
The Red and Gold team management were not ready to play any competitive tournaments as preparations ahead of India’s most coveted league as they felt any kind of injuries to any players will harm their I-League preparations and strategies.
As soon as FC Goa were looking for opponents to play in India, East Bengal were the first to raise their hand. Not only FC Goa, they are slated to play FC Pune City on 30th October in Balewadi Sports Complex, Pune.
On the flip-side, East Bengal’s local rivals Mohun Bagan had other ideas. As soon as the Calcutta Football League got over, Bagan officials enlisted their name to play in the Sikkim Governor’s Gold Cup after a long gap, in which they have emerged champions. This has been scheduled to plan out the final XI and formations they planned out to play a friendly against FC Goa on November 9th.
Meanwhile, East Bengal are yet to name a replacement for injured centre-back Carlyle Mitchell as there have been still talks going on between him and management regarding the compensation part. As soon as Mitchell is released, the club will name his replacement by this week or early next week. Names doing the rounds are Victor Kamhuka, who played for Pathachakra in the CFL, Brazilian Eduardo, who had a very good last season for Bagan and FC Pune City, and ATK’s former Botswana defensive midfielder and centre-back Ofentse Nato.
Khalid Jamil wants someone who has the experience of Indian conditions and it will be interesting to see who gets the nod ahead among the above three. As of now, sources close to the club says Victor Kamhuka may get the green signal as he is still on with his game and has the match fitness whereas the other two last played almost six months back and nobody is aware of their current physical status.
East Bengal, on the financial front, may join hands with a mineral water brand as their co-sponsor in the I-League. As UB Group have denied increasing their budget for this season, East Bengal officials were immediately looking for a co-sponsor to meet their demand and they have got one at last.