The second Kolkata derby for the hosts in as many days will see Colaco’s men try to further stake their claim for the title, but United SC are more than capable of the upset...
Round eleven of the I-League will see East Bengal take on United SC in the second of three such Kolkata derbies possible this season. The hosts are in form, beating their age-old Kolkata rivals Mohun Bagan in the derby just this past week. The Purple Brigade under coach Eelco Schatorrie however will look to prove a point on their own top four pledges.
East Bengal head into this game knowing a win will put them into a fairly competitive position, having played a few games fewer than the competing lot owing too their Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) Cup commitments.
The new coach, Armando Colaco, is still new to the job at the East Bengal club but displayed the tactical nous expected of him while facing Mohun Bagan in his first I-League game in charge. The Red and Gold faithful will be hoping he performs the same tricks against United SC.
He is expected to start with the same squad that vied for the win against the Mariners. Mehtab Hossain shall miss the game on account of an injury. Lalrindika Ralte’s goal put a butterfly of exuberance in the tummies of the fans and officials alike and he will hope for a repeat of his heroics.
"It’s a new game but the ambition remains the same. Every match is difficult in the I-League. One has to remain focused from the first to the last minute. I have been telling the boys to forget about the last result because it is just one match. We need to start fresh and give a good performance against United SC," said Colaco.
Schatorrie’s squad on the other hand faces possibly the biggest test they will have faced by far this season. They have momentum on their side though, having just won their first away game this season, against Dempo SC. The high fliers are now fourth in the league and overtake a few and be level on points with league leaders Bengaluru FC and Salgaocar FC.
“East Bengal has the best team in India. They just have a new coach that means players are sharp and want to prove themselves. With such a quality squad, they should win the competition this year. The quality and depth of the squad is excellent,” warned coach Schattorie.
The Purple Brigade however have been dealt a heavy blow as Eric Brown and Lalkamal Bhowmick are both missing from the game, which will mean that they have no playmankers in the middle of the pitch. The onus will then be on Ranti Martins and C.K. Vineeth to pull their side through.
On the defensive front, Dhanachandra Singh is also expected to miss the match, as he has been taken ill. “That's another player who adds some power to the team,” lamented Schattorie.
So, problems galore United SC will look to prove the odds wrong and beat the strongest team in the title race in a hotly contested encounter. Many would consider this match a lock-and-key affair for the Red and Golds considering the depth of their squad and the troubles of their Kolkata rivals.
However as the league has shown us time and again, never count out the underdogs, until the referee blows the final whistle.
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