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I-League

Talking Points: Is releasing Khalid Aucho East Bengal's biggest mistake in recent times?

Written by: Uttiyo Sarkar

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The Red and Gold Brigade climbed to the second position in the league. 

East Bengal picked up their third successive win in the I-League by piping Churchill Brothers 2-1 at Tilak Maidan in Goa on Thursday. After going down through an early Willis Plaza strike, a world-class volley from Jaime Santos Colado and a lucky Lalrindika Ralte free-kick sealed the deal for them. The Red and Gold Brigader are now second in the league table, three points behind Chennai City, while Churchill fall to the fifth position.

Here are our talking points from the game:

5. Could Jaime Santos be Alejandro Menendez’s missing link?

Jaime Santos is quickly becoming a huge fan-favorite among East Bengal fans, with his clever work in the final third and electric demeanour having a positive influence on his teammates. Santos looked rejuvenated after a successful debut in the Kolkata Derby, using his creativity to link-up well with Jobby Justin and Co.

He created a few decent chances with some superb passes, but proved his real talent when he scored an absolute stunner to equalize things. However, Santos is more than just scoring goals, as he encourages his team to pass, be braver in attack and express themselves with his own style.

Colado can definitely help stitch together Alejandro Menendez’s possession-based, attacking style and be the missing link in East Bengal's jigsaw puzzle.

4. Was releasing Khalid Aucho a big mistake by East Bengal?

Khalid Aucho’s having a really prolific season with Churchill Brothers and put on another commendable display against his former employers, East Bengal. The Nigerian midfielder was all over the midfield, stealing the ball numerous times with his power and tough-tackling demeanour.

Despite getting heated at times, Aucho made sure East Bengal couldn’t move forward easily and put a stop to numerous attacks. He won the ball early on and played his part in creating the opener, with his distribution encouraging attacks.



Aucho possesses everything East Bengal’s midfield lacks right now and his impressive form for Churchill proves how bad a mistake they made in prematurely releasing him.

3. Is Lalrindika Ralte the most dangerous set-piece taker in the league?

Lalrindika Ralte is slowly immersing himself into a central role with East Bengal and after a few bright performances, his own confidence has gone up a level. Ralte looked full of enthusiasm against Churchill Brothers and played an intelligent game. Despite not having the physical prowess or energy to tussle with their midfielders, he sat deep and anticipated their attacks, while also protecting his defence.

However, it was his set-piece prowess which helped the Kolkata giants win their third consecutive game in the league. Ralte’s perfect corner fell right into Santos’ path for him to score the volley and he looked dangerous every time East Bengal had a set-piece. Ralte scored the winner when his free-kick fooled Vigneshwaran Baskaran to float into the net.


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2. Did Churchill miss Israil Gurung’s punch?

The big news for Churchill Brothers was that they didn’t have their prolific winger Israil Gurung in the team, negating much of their attacking sting. Gurung’s absence in the final third was felt in the Red Machines’ game, as an overbearing creativity pressure was put on Dawda Ceesay’s shoulders.

There weren’t that many dangerous crosses put into the box, as Churchill failed to really test East Bengal’s resolve. Gurung’s set-piece threat was also missed, as his replacement Anthony Wolfe struggled to do much despite his physical prowess.

Peter Gigiu will hope his electric winger recovers soon, as his pace and creativity are required for the Red Machines to operate as a complete unit.

1. Are East Bengal back into the I-League title race?

A few weeks ago, East Bengal’s title chances looked extremely gloomy after three losses in a row. However, now with three wins on the trot, they sit just three points behind league leaders Chennai City. An away win against a dangerous opponent like Churchill is invaluable to the Red and Gold Brigader.

They arrived with confidence and tamed the Red Machines in their own backyard, playing a clever game. East Bengal defended well and clinically took their chances and are now second in the league table. With their performances constantly improving with each game, it seems the momentum is on East Bengal’s side to put the pressure back on Chennai City at the top of the table.

Published: Fri Dec 21, 2018 02:35 PM IST

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