Armando Colaco's side will look to heap more misery on the visitors who are in their worst run of form...
East Bengal will look to continue their good run of form as they host Pune FC in a rescheduled I-League round three encounter at the Salt Lake Stadium, Kolkata.
The Red and Gold brigade are unbeaten in their last seven games and have registered back-to-back wins for the first time this season.
Confidence is high as East Bengal do have a realistic chance of winning the I-League title as they do not face strong opponents in their run-in.
“I am very satisfied with the way things are going at the moment. I can only guide. It is the players who deliver,” said coach Armando Colaco.
James Moga and Mehtab Hossain will not be available for selection as the duo are recuperating from their respective injuries.
“We are in a position from where we can strive to win the title. We will play have to win to stay in the race. The injuries will not hamper us as the boys are playing well and will go all out to get full points. All credit should go to the players if we win the silverware,” he mentioned.
On the other hand, Pune FC have been poor in the second half of the season with only two wins to show in their last 22 matches in all competitions.
Once billed as one of the title contenders, the team looks short on confidence. They have claimed to promote young talent but that has in turn not helped their title aspirations which makes one wonder whether they were serious challenger in the first place.
Part of the problems have also arisen with the Dutch coach tinkering with his line-up on numerous occasions. Douhou Pierre has been shifted backward to do a defensive midfield role while Mustapha Riga has been given the nod to start as a number ten, a move which isn’t making the optimum utilization of the Ivorian’s skills.
Senior players like Arata Izumi and Gurjinder Kumar have lost their place in the first team and have been deployed in varied positions, something which they haven’t been able to adapt to.
Mirjan Pavlovic was substituted early in their AFC Cup tie against Nay Pyi Taw and looks unlikely to start. Mumtaz Akhtar has joined the squad to give coach Mike Snoei another option to choose from.
“We will fight and work and try to bring in some quality. It’s a fantastic stadium and we had a great win against Mohammedan Sporting here, so hopefully we can make it very difficult for East Bengal.
“East Bengal is a team with fantastic quality. They are always in the running for trophies. May be we can put pressure on them and we do have the quality to do that,” said Snoei.