The Red and Gold will look to build on the win over Mohammedan and cause some problems for Shillong Lajong at home...
East Bengal take on Shillong Lajong at the Salt Lake Stadium, Kolkata in the I-League on Friday. Shillong lie fifthon the table with 25 points, three points ahead of East Bengal in seventh, but the lead does not look all that comfortable when you consider the three matches the KKolkata outfit have in hand.
The last time these teams met East Bengal ran out 4-0 winners with James Moga and Edeh Chidi on a roll.
Despite being fifth and in touching distance of teams above them, the Meghalaya based club have suffered an abysmal run of form of late. They have won only once, and have lost and drawn two apiece in their last five.
Thangboi Singto’s side drew their last match 2-2 against Pune FC. Ulliams Bonfim scored twice to put them in front but they could not hang on and drew 2-2. East Bengal on the other hand finally recorded a win, much to the relief of their supporters when they beat fellow Kolkata club Mohammedan Sporting 2-1 with goals from James Moga and Edeh Chidi.
Cornell Glen has been in great form for Shillong and his form should be a major boost for his side. He scored a hat -tick against Mumbai in the Federation Cup and has been chipping in in other matches too. However the striker remains a doubtful starter for the tie.
“Uilliams is in scoring touch now after netting three goals from three games played. All the team members have also given 100 percent which I’m happy about. We need to play as a team to win," said coach Singto.
Lalthummawia Ralte and Minchol Son were particularly impressive too against Pune and should be brimming with confidence.
Thangboi Singto added, “We have to win to stay in the hunt for top five. We need to take the pressure positively and translate into a winning performance.”
East Bengal coach Armando Colaco will be happy that both his strikers fired in their last outing. The club has been in the news for the wrong reasons with their off field issues becoming public knowledge. Their coach said that the players were putting themselves above the team and that wouldn’t work.
But the Red and Gold were given a breather with their win against Mohammedan. Shylo Malsawmtluanga on the wings in particular looked in fantastic touch and his performance will have a major impact on the outcome of this game.
Centre-back Uga Okpara who stirred up controversy by leaving the team without permission earlier was taken off in the game and the coach fears his injury will keep him out for the season.
"Last match's win have boosted the morale of the team and we will try to take advantage of home conditions and aim to garner maximum points to move up the ladder in the I-League table. There is no point in underestimating our rivals as they are a good outfit with having two good players in Taisuke Matsugae and Uilliams Bomfin.We would play to our full potential," said Colaco.
Edeh Chidi, Ryuji Sueoka and Lalrindika Ralte are nursing injuries and remains to be seen whether Colaco would play them on Friday.
Expect this one to be pretty close to call as the I-League pushes towards the business end of the season. A win would be a big boost for both sides, while a loss could be quite damaging in the long run.
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