|Game||East Bengal vs Gokulam Kerala|
|Date||Wednesday, December 27|
|Time||8:00 PM IST (GMT +5:30)|
TV CHANNELS & LIVE STREAM
The Star Sports Network have the exclusive broadcasting rights of the I-League. All the matches will be telecast live on Star Sports 2 and 2 HD.
|India TV channels||Online streams|
|Star Sports 2/2HD||Hotstar|
EAST BENGAL FC:
Key Players: Mahmoud Al Amna, Katsumi Yusa.
GOKULAM KERALA FC:
Injured: Kamo Bayi
Key Players: Leo Mbele, Al Saleh.
Kolkata giants East Bengal are firmly back on track in the title race after a poor start to the season. Now they have 10 points from five games and are placed second, three points behind high-flying Minerva Punjab.
Their opponents Gokulam Kerala registered their first win of the season in their last game against Indian Arrows. Daniel Addo and Khaled Al-Saleh netted a goal in either half to ensure three points for the side coached by Bino George. They will be looking to build on that.
East Bengal started the season poorly, with a 2-2 draw against defending champions and the subsequent 0-1 loss to Mohun Bagan in the Kolkata Derby exerted pressure on new head coach Khalid Jamil and out-of-form forward Willis Plaza. However, a dominant 5-1 win against Shillong Lajong in their third match kick-started their season and they are now on a winning run of three games.
East Bengal have scored the most number of goals in the I-League so far, netting a total of 12 goals from their five games. Their opponents on Wednesday have a meagre three to their name. Interestingly, the Kolkata-based clubs have conceded more goals (7) than the newly promoted Gokulam Kerala (5) so far this season.
Head coach Bino George will be in a positive mood after downing Indian Arrows 2-0 in their last game. Despite their injury struggles since the start of the season which also saw star forward Stephane Kamo Bayi being sidelined, Khalid Alsaleh has pulled the strings in midfield quite well and Leo Mbele is working hard up front to turn results in their favour.
Leo Mbele might have to be the 'one-man army' against the centre-back pairing of Arnab Mondal and Eduardo Ferreira, the latter of whom did an excellent job of keeping league topscorer Jean Micheal Joachim quiet in East Bengal's last game against Chennai City. And it won't be an easy task in a game in which East Bengal is expected to have plenty of the ball.
Katsumi Yusa's intelligence combined with Laldanmawia's pace in the attacking third will be difficult for Emmanuel Chigozie and Daniel Addo to deal with. The Nigerian defender had been out since the season opener after he injured his hamstring but came back into the lineup for the game against Arrows.
With East Bengal being the heavy favourites for this one, can the club from Kerala pull a rabbit out of the hat?