The Kolkata outfit will look to start with a win in their first home game in the league while Dempo would hope for a change in their fortunes...
The Red and Gold's under Marcos Falopa look like a gelled unit, finally coming true on the faithful spectators’ hopes of winning the I-League – an achievement they have yet to realize since the very inception of the league in 2007. Now with a capable squad they look to set that record straight.
There is also the small matter of an Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) Cup second leg semi-final match they will have to fight back in against Kuwait SC, reigning champions of the tournament, after losing 4-2 in the first leg of the semi.
The Brazilian coach, has acknowledged that Dempo will offer them a tough fight but he also aims to use this match as a precedent to East Bengal’s form before they set out against their semi-final opponents.
“The game against Dempo won’t be easy for us. Rather, we should brace ourselves for a tough contest, as Dempo are a very good side. It’s imperative we try our best and do well against them to ensure we continue our winning momentum. We have some important matches ahead. The AFC Cup game, too, is one of them. So, in the coming days, we must make it a point to continue playing good football,” expolated Falopa.
They have already put their best foot forward in the I-League by achieving what no previous East Bengal side has done before - put Shillong Lajong to the sword in emphatic style with a 4-0 whitewash.
Confidence is brimming as they did it without Ryuji Seouka and five rested Indian players. James Moga is on song as well and when coupled with a talented squad, the opposition will have all to do on their day. All this, having played just one I-League game so far. East Bengal may be 8th in the league but they have the opportunity to raise themselves a position or two higher with a win, knowing full well that they will have played less than half the games their rivals will have played.
Reisangmi Vashum has been ruled out of the tie due to an injury.
So while things are looking very rosy of the Kolkata based team, it is on the opposite end of the rainbow that Arthur Papas and Dempo SC find themselves in. Having no win in their opening FOUR games, they find themselves in 9th, a place behind their upcoming opponents having played THREE games more.
"At this stage we are not completely satisfied with our results although as every game has progressed we have shown improvement as a collective unit in our performances. As a group we have shown in the last match against Salgaocar that we can compete very well with the top teams in the league and we just need to put forward a consistent 90 minute performance," explained the Australian coach, to Goal, before the East Bengal match.
He will look to cause an upset against the team he personally billed as favourites to win the I-League this year around, as that would do wonders for the self-belief in his team, which seems shot at the moment.
Simon Colosimo, Shinnosuke Honda and Billy Mehmet look uninspiring signings for the Whites from Goa while Jewel Raja’s haphazard form is a cause for concern.
Papas knows well that a remedial fix will not do and that he needs to implement a strong structure if his side have any hope of winning the I-League title this year. No I-League team without a win in four games has ever won the championship and Papas knows full well that records are against him.
He will try to restore Dempo to a suitable position in the league as they are far more capable than what their present predicament suggests.
Both these sides go into the fixture wanting to prove a point. East Bengal look to capitalize on on supremacy while Dempo look for revival. The one who gets their point across, will be the eventual winner.
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