Kolkata giants Kingfisher East Bengal would be hoping to go top of the 2017/18 Hero I-League table with a win when they host Gokulam Kerala FC.
After shrugging of a rather poor start to the season, the Red and Golds have recorded three wins on the spin and return home in hopes of picking all three points against the Hero I-League newbies, thus propelling them to the top of the table, albeit after having played a game more than current leaders Minerva Punjab FC.
Head coach Khalid Jamil did not see this as an opportunity to jump the gun and get too excited. “We have to just go and play good football. Every team which comes to play us will give their hundred percent so we cannot take anyone lightly. I do not know much about their (Gokulam Kerala FC’s) specialities but I had watched their first game. We have to play positive and think about our own game rather than others”, humbly said Jamil.
Willis Plaza, who announced his comeback into goalscoring form two games ago with a brace against Churchill Brothers ten days ago, remained positive as well. He said, “I am feeling good at the moment with my game and have been working hard. But the end of the matter is that we need three points.”
Though the Red and Golds have been in sublime goalscoring form, with twelve hits to the team’s name, shipping in seven goals in five games will be a concern they would like to address quickly. Arnab Mondal has been reinstated with Eduardo Ferreira and it will be up to the duo to keep the defence organized with their combined leadership and experience.
While Mahmoud Al Amna and Katsumi Yusa remain the men to watch out for, Charles De Souza might be persisted with after he scored his first goal for the club in the last round, that too against his former employers Chennai City FC.
On the other hand, after picking up their first win of the season against the Indian Arrows, Gokulam Kerala FC will possibly be missing the services of Stephane Kamo Bayi, whose brother Bazie Armand is part of the Kingfisher East Bengal squad. The participation of Sushanth Mathew and Khalid Al-Saleh are also under a cloud after the duo picked up injuries, the latter having scored in the last game.
Striker Leo Mbele and defender Daniel Addo will have added responsibilities to rally a side that lies seventh on the points table but however are exempt from relegation this Hero I-League season. Emmanuel Chigozie returned to their lineup in the last game and the Calicut-based side will take solace from the fact that they have had a rather tight backline, conceding only five goals so far and will hope to keep it that way.
Bino George on the eve of the game said, “I have respect for Kingfisher East Bengal, they are a big team. I am looking for a point here. I am not happy with the performances we have put in so far but this is a new club and it will take time before we start performing.”
Striker Rohit Mirza sat beside him echoed his Boss’ sentiments. “They are a good side. We take one match at a time. We are working hard and hopefully, we will play well. There is pressure and we will want to win a point,” he said.
The match kicks off at 8 PM IST and will be telecasted on Star Sports 2/HD and will be streamed on Hotstar and Jio TV.