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Brazilians hold the key

Margao: After a superb home run the National Football League (NFL), East Bengal start their away engagements against Vasco at the Nehru Stadium Thursday. While the Calcutta League champions have 16 points from six games, Vasco are on 11.

The focus will be on four Brazilians, who will be in action. While East Bengal have striker Gilmar Goncalves and defender Douglas de Silva in their ranks, Vasco bank heavily on strikers Rui Wanderleis Weis and Marcus Pereira to deliver the goods.

Marcus has been the cynosure of Vasco attack and is in brilliant form this season. With their midfield well organised and the forwards doing well, East Bengal defence will have their task cut out. More so, after bit of a let down against Salgaocar in the last game.

The Calcutta outfit will also be depending heavily on Alvito D’Cunha, who joined the red-and-gold brigade this season from Salgaocar.

It will be his first match in Goa soil after he joined East Bengal and there is hardly anyone else who knows the local conditions better.

Coach Subhas Bhowmick feels Vasco is an extremely tough opponent and one of the most organised teams, especially in the midfield. “Moreover, Thursday being the Goa Liberation Day, Vasco will go all guns blazing with a vociferous crowd backing,” Bhowmick added.

“The match is very crucial and a win will set up a good launching pad for our title hunt. They also have good players and with Marcus in brilliant form, the match is expected to be a thriller,” the coach opined.

Assessing Gilmar, he said: “The Brazilian is technically very sound with a superb first touch, but he needs a little more time to settle down.”

Meanwhile, Vasco coach Derick Pereira sounded extremely respectful of the Calcutta giants. “East Bengal is the best side with a bunch of talented players. The going is bound to get tough,” he said.

However, he did not rule out his team’s chances. “No team is unbeatable. If Real Madrid can be beaten, why not East Bengal'” he quipped.

“We are playing well as a team and with a little bit of luck, we can very well turn the tide in our favour,” Pereira added.

On the other hand, Wanderleis is keen to get back his scoring touch. The team has been doing well but my performance has been below par. So, what better occasion to fire than this,” he said.

Salgaocar take on Indian Bank

Depleted Salgaocar will take on Indian Bank in a crucial NFL away encounter at Chennai Thursday.

Both the teams are on seven points, though the Goa side has played one game more. Salgaocar will not have the services of Liberian striker Sunday Seah (out with two yellow cards) and defender Mani Tombi Singh (injured). Also, captain Covan Lawrence looks doubtful with an injured ankle.

However, Salgaocar coach Savio Madeira sounded confident of coming out with three points. “It’s a tough match, but we have enough replacements,” he said.

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