East Bengal were held to a somewhat disappointing 1-1 draw against local side Rainbow FC in a pre-season friendly on Tuesday.
Khalid Jamil had made several changes in the starting XI from their previous practice match against Kalighat M.S which they had won 4-1. Salam Ranjan Singh was fielded as a centre-back today alongside Trinidad and Tobago international Carlyle Mitchell. Samad Ali Mullick and Lalramchullova were the full-backs.
Interestingly the East Bengal gaffer fielded seasoned defender Arnab Mondal as a defensive blocker. They played with a 4-1-4-1 formation. Mohammed Rafique too started in the central midfield alongside Al Amna and Willis Plaza started upfront as the lone striker.
But The Red and Gold brigade were listless in the first half of the game as they failed to make meaningful attacks. Rainbow defenders stood firm to prevent the East Bengal attackers from opening their account.
It was Brandon Vanlalremdika who finally found the back of the net in the second half following a brilliant ball from Syrian midfielder Mahmoud Al Amna. The winger showed great composure as he calmly received an aerial ball and placed it into the top corner.
Rainbow reacted quickly and soon scored an equaliser, exposing the vulnerability of the East Bengal defence as the game ended in a draw.
Star striker Willis Plaza looked a bit off pace on the day. The Trinidadian came close to scoring quite a few times in the first half but was easily thwarted by the opposing defenders. His first touches were not the best and wasted several chances fashioned by his teammates for him.
Overall, it was not an outing to remember for the Kolkata giants and it will surely raise several eyebrows with the CFL knocking on the doors.
However, coach Khalid Jamil though sounded unfazed about the poor performance. He said: “The performance was fine, but we have to rectify as there are several tough matches coming up. The ground condition today was not great, it was slippery. Otherwise everything is fine.”
When asked about Plaza’s poor form, the gaffer replied: “He is not fully fit but he will be back in shape very soon. Plaza is good player and that is the reason I took him this season.”
Khalid also complimented Plaza’s compatriot Carlyle Mitchell. “He is a good player, he played well today,” the coach said.
On using Arnab as a defensive midfielder, Khalid said: "It was a practice match and I was experimenting with the formation."
East Bengal Starting XI: Mirshad K; Samad Ali Mallick, Salam Ranjan Singh, Carlyle Mitchell, Lalram Chullova; Arnab Mondal, Brandon Vanlalremdika, Mohammed Rafique, Mahmoud Al Amna, Danmawia Ralte; Willis Plaza.