East Bengal host defending champions Minerva Punjab in crucial I-league fixture
Written by: Uttiyo Sarkar
The Red and Gold Brigade are currently behind the Warriors, and a win would take higher up the table.
East Bengal look to get back to winning ways when they return to the Salt Lake Stadium on Tuesday to face defending champions Minerva Punjab. With Chennai City almost running away at the top, the Red and Gold Brigaders will be desperate for a win to help regain their lost-confidence from early in the season. Minerva Punjab are themselves looking to climb up to the top four and look a stubborn side away from home this season. They’ll love to spoil East Bengal’s party and gain a few precious points from Kolkata.
East Bengal’s gaffer Alejandro Menendez spoke about the long-break from their trip to Aizawl to this match and said, “Sometimes in the I-League, there are longer breaks and sometimes the breaks are short. I’m Not sure if this is good for the team or not. However, we got some time to prepare the team. We are building the team for the future.”
He isn’t taking Minerva Punjab lightly despite their unfavourable start to the season. Menendez explained, “Minerva Punjab are a good side. It’s difficult to play and defend against them. But we are playing at home, and we have to win. We have to play in our own style and win the game.”
When asked about what he’s been aiming to improve upon in his side during this long break, the Spaniard said, “We are trying to correct our overall game watching the previous matches. But we’re not particularly focusing on improving our defence and midfield.”
Menendez also explained that injured star Mahmoud Al Amna is training his best to achieve full fitness and that he’s not thinking about the Kolkata derby right now. However, when asked about whether his side is under any pressure for the game tomorrow, Menendez opined, “It is always better for us to play in front of our home crowd. There’s no pressure at all. The team has to do well. It is a long league. We have to try to win the home match tomorrow.”
Minerva Punjab’s technical director Paul Munster was asked about his side’s inconsistent start to the season. He said, “Well, last year was last year. We’re a different, new team this year. There are many new players. Foreign players and Indian players as well. So we’re a new team like East Bengal and are taking each game as it comes, trying to improve with each passing games.”
“It’s hard to say. In four games, we’ve won two and lost twice. The season’s still early. We’ve studied East Bengal, who have also had a topsy-turvy season so far and like them, we’re aiming to improve with more games to come. We’re looking for consistency and East Bengal are doing the same and for now, the league is very, very tight,” he added.
Munster spoke about how he wants to deal with this discreet rivalry shared between East Bengal and Minerva Punjab from last season. He said, “Yes, I’ve been told about that. Personally, I like that. I like the drive and passion and football should be like that. Coming to the game, I’ve told the players that if the fans are saying things which aren’t nice, it means you're doing your job."
‘’For me and my players, it’s motivation to play better. Going into this games, this is what you want. You want full stadiums, you want passion from the supporters. This is what football should be in every game,” he added.
When asked about whether he’s focused on containing a specific player of East Bengal, Munster explained, “I wouldn’t play a specific player. When you’re playing teams, you’re trying not to concede goals. I’ve seen their number 9(Esqueda). To be honest, I haven’t really seen that much to be feared of a specific player,” he ended with.
Mahmoud Al Amna is still out with a long-term injury. Apart from that, there are no more injury worries for the Red and Gold Brigaders.
Yu Kuboki is still out with an injury. Otherwise, Minerva goes in with a fully fit squad.
Dagar, Chullova, Borja, Acosta, Manoj, Kamalpreet, Lalrindika, Laldanmawia, Brandon, Esqueda, Justin.
Arshdeep, Souvik, Toure, Caicedo, Arashpreet, Amandeep, Njoku, Naorem, Sangwan, Opoku, Edafe.
The game will take place on Tuesday, 04th December at the Salt Lake Stadium. It will be broadcasted on Star Sports 3 and will be available to stream on Hotstar and JioTV.
Published: Mon Dec 03, 2018 05:44 PM IST