KOLKATA: Struggling East Bengal will have their work cut out when they host I-League leaders and title favourites Minerva Punjab in a crucial fixture on Tuesday at Barasat Stadium.
The Red and Golds suffered an embarrassing 2-0 defeat to Mohun Bagan in their most recent outing. Mohun Bagan, who were without a few of their key players like Sony Norde and Yuta Kinowaki, ran East Bengal ragged.
Minerva, on the other, will be full of confidence as they come into the game off the back of a 1-0 win over Neroca FC this past weekend.
If East Bengal’s performance in Kolkata derby is anything to go by, then they will be lucky to come out with three points, or even one against Minerva.
An six point gap separates the two sides with East Bengal sitting third on the log with 19 points while Minerva have accumulated 25 points with a couple of games in hand. A win for East Bengal would see them leapfrog surprise package Neroca FC to second place.
East Bengal coach Khalid Jamil has accepted that it’s a difficult time for his team, but remains confident in the quality of his squad. Jamil spoke about them maintaining their push for the title and three points against Minerva will keep them in the hunt for that particular objective.
According to Jamil the defeat in Kolkata Derby was a wake-up call and have thus promised an immediate response.
But the question is will they be able to get it against a side that have been truly dominant over their opponents in this season.
Minerva at the moment, are a side buoyed by their self-belief and ability to overturn deficits in any clash whatsoever.
Despite the lack of experienced campaigners, Coach Khogen Singh’s reliance on youngsters has paid dividends and it’s the same starlets he will look at to get the better of East Bengal.
Minerva cause problems for East Bengal whenever they meet, and now with individuals like Chencho Gyeltshen in their ranks, it’s sure going to be an even bigger problem for the hosts.
East Bengal, however, will fancy their chances given the visitors’ intimating form at the moment where they are win-less in last three games.