The Reds have won their opening two games while the Red and Gold are seeking their first win of the season.
Kolkata heavyweights Kingfisher East Bengal, who are yet to taste victory in the 2017/18 season of the Hero I-League host Shillong Lajong FC at the Vidyasagar Krirangan (Barasat Stadium) in the round three clash on Saturday (December 9, 2017).
After a disappointing derby defeat to Mohun Bagan last weekend, the Red and Golds will aim to bounce back as pressure on head coach Khalid Jamil creeps up from fans and the management alike.
“I do not want to think about what has happened. Soccer cannot be played down the confidence level. We are hopeful to leave the field with three points in the Lajong match. We have to fight. I saw the last moments of their match. they have a lot of hard working footballers. Our match will not be easy”, the former Mumbai FC man.
Willis Plaza commented, “I am also working in practice. But, I’m also worried about the goal. I’m not happy with my performance. Strikers workaround, I can not do it. Occasionally fortune does not help me. However, I want to score in the Lajong match.”
There is expected to be a complete overhaul of the backline as Mehtab Singh, Deepak Kumar and senior-pro Gurwinder Singh will likely make way for Salam Ranjan Singh, Lalramchullova and India international Arnab Mondal.
There are calls to field a two-man striking pair with Charles De Souza partnering the misfiring Willis Plaza. Mohammed Rafique is also expected to be back in the reckoning.
Kingfisher East Bengal have the statistical edge over their north-eastern counterparts as they are yet to lose at home against the Reds since the last four seasons.
In eighteen meetings between the teams, Kingfisher East Bengal have come out on top eight times while four games were drawn with only six losses. Last season, this tie ended in a 1-1 draw but away from home, Kingfisher East Bengal grabbed all three points with a 2-1 win.
True to their idea of youth development, Shillong Lajong have picked up two wins from as many outings all thanks to their younger stars. Alen Deory, Samuel Kynshi and Redeem Tlang were on the scoresheet in their twin home victories against Gokulam Kerala 1-0 and Churchill Brothers 2-0.
“We have played the last two matches at home, this is our first ever match, so we are worried, we want to see the opponent in the first fifteen minutes,” said the Lajong head coach Bobby Nongbet.
Lajong will have a different challenge in hand as they step out of their comfort zone for the first time to play their first away game of the season.
Bobby Nongbet’s men arrive in Kolkata with a five-point lead over their opponents on Saturday and will be hopeful of making it to the top of the table.
The game kicks off at 5:30 PM and will be telecasted on Star Sports 2 and streamed on Hotstar, Jio TV.