The Red and Gold's will hope to derail Westwood’s team’s momentum, but the league leaders could potentially throw up a kitty of surprises against the championship favourites
East Bengal head into this game needing a win but don’t find themselves in the rosiest of form. They’ve lost to Dempo SC in the league, a total hammering, while they lost their Asian Football Confederations (AFC) Cup semi-final bout, against Al Kuwait SC, in similar fashion. So it’s no wonder that Marcos Falopa, Brazilian coach of the Kolkata based team, will be gunning his squad for an all-important win.
The home side currently lie in eleventh but they’ve only played two games owing to their AFC Cup commitments. The favourites for the title will have a full squad at their disposal.
James Moga, the South Sudanese striker in particular will be looking to make amends after a terrible showing against the Kuwaiti champions. Ryuji Seuoka will again miss out with injury. Uga Okpara is suspended after being sent-off in the last game.
Bengaluru FC on the other hand are flying high and far above the others. The new-boys of the I-League have been a total bag of surprises under Ashley Westwood and are top of the league thanks to some wonderful displays at home. This however will be the first real test of their superiority over the others.
After Salgaocar’s loss to Mohun Bagan in the last round, the Steelers have established themselves at the top of the table outright. They have two of league’s rabid scorers as well with Sean Rooney and John Johnson prolific in front of goal with five and three goals respectively.
They have the second best defense in the league as so far, having conceded just three goals so far. Yet, the pairing of John and Curtis Osano will face stiffest test in the power of James Moga and Chidi Edeh.
"We will take East Bengal on merit and see what we can get out of the trip," said coach Ashley Westwood.
The crowd will play an important part too, as the largely partisan Kalyani stadium will be in rapturous voice to support their team all throughout which may affect the away side’s tempo.
These two teams have never faced off in the I-League owing to Bengaluru’s recent inception, but first impressions are often the best and there is no doubt both of them will want to make it an appointment to remember.