East Bengal face Gokulam Kerala FC in a must-win match in I-League on Saturday at the EMS Stadium, Kozhikode. After a win over Minerva Punjab, Khalid Jamil's men have come back strongly in the title race. They are now third on the league table, five points behind leaders NEROCA and three points behind favourites Minerva.
The Red and Golds coach remained focused ahead of the crucial tie against a spirited Gokulam side, who gained confidence after registering a famous win over giants Mohun Bagan in Kolkata.
"Tomorrow’s (Saturday) match is important for us. It is a vital match and we have to play positively and look to get a positive result," said Jamil.
Speaking about the championship, he said, "We are just thinking about tomorrow’s match. We will be playing against a good team. We cannot take things lightly. We have to be strong both defensively and attacking wise."
The East Bengal confirmed that his team does not have any injury concerns and all the players are fit to play.
Local boys Joby Justin and Ubaid CK will be donning the East Bengal jersey against Gokulam on Saturday. Both the players have been impressive in their debut season for the Kolkata giants and coach Khalid Jamil praised them. He said, "We have local players like Joby Justin and Ubaid CK in our side. They are doing a good job. They are playing good."
I-League new entrants Gokulam Kerala's season has been below par so far. They are in the ninth position on the league table with 13 points from as many matches. But a famous win against Mohun Bagan last Sunday has improved the mood in Bino George's camp.
Strikers Mahmood Al Ajmi and Henry Kisekka, who joined the side in January, scored a goal each against Mohun Bagan. Speaking on Al Ajmi's influence on the side, coach Bino George said, "(Mahmood) Al-Ajmi was a replacement to Francis Ambane and he made the right impact on the team."
The club are in talks with a new foreign coach who is expected to replace George as the head coach after the ongoing season. Speaking about the speculations, George said, “I cannot comment anything regarding the same. If anything solid comes up we will let everyone know”
On the match, he said, “Winning this match is important for East Bengal, and in the same way it is important for us also to win this particular match."