KOLKATA: East Bengal coach Alejandro Menendez is determined for a positive start to his team’s campaign in the 2019 Durand Cup when Red and Golds begin it’s campaign in Group A against defending champions Army Red at East Bengal Ground on Saturday, kick-off 3 pm.
The clash, even at this early stage, is liable to represent a crucial fixture in the title aspirations of both teams. A defeat on the opening day would leave either side facing a mountainous climb. However, on the other side of the coin, victory would help them to build momentum in a competition that offer little scope to make mistakes.
Initially East Bengal had plans to play Durand Cup with their reserve team, but the Kolkata giants have been forced to change their decision after coming under pressure from the Indian Army, organizers of the Durand Cup.
Reserve team or no reserve team, East Bengal could seem favourite to win this game taking into account the readiness of the players for this game on both the mental and physical side. However, their opponents will not be that easy to beat. The physical strength of Army players as well as the discipline and stamina they have, could be a dangerous weapon in the game.
However, should East Bengal fully realize their offensive potential, as they did in momentously throughout the last season, then it is difficult to see Army Red handling East Bengal’s vast array of attacking riches.
Jaime Santos Colado represents the jewel in East Bengal’s glittering attacking crown. His creativity and eye for goal should be a threat for the Army Red back-line. If the Spanish forward recreates the sparkling form he showcased in I-League last season, Army’s defenders could endure the most torrid of afternoons.
Army Red, on the other hand, would like to take a very conservative approach, which is not very uncommon being the underdog in this game. They would prefer to sit deep, stay organized, hit on the counter when they can and take their chances in a low-scoring affair.
There might not be many recognizable names in Army Red squad, but one player who will be leading the way is winger Jain P. The versatile footballer has helped recently helped Services to crown champions in Santosh Trophy, so as one of the most exposed players in the team, all eyes will be on him to guide Army Red.