| Edeh Chidi |
Calcutta: McDowell Mohun Bagan’s Federation Cup campaign began on a silent note when they were held to a goalless draw by Churchill Brothers, on Thursday.
Kingfisher East Bengal, too, will face a Goan challenge when they take on Sporting Clube de Goa, in Siliguri, on Friday. But, to the red and gold brigade’s advantage, Clube are no Churchill and so coach Trevor James Morgan can hope for a winning start to the tournament.
If that’s an advantage, there’s a setback as well to balance things out. Heavy rains in Siliguri on Thursday has rendered the pitch unsuitable for the passing game that East Bengal are used to. Accordingly, Morgan made his wards practice long passes and aerial balls. So, a change in the game-plan has to accounted with.
But even then, East Bengal have a far superior line-up. The midfield looks composed with the presence of Ishfaq Ahmed, Mehtab Hussain, Penn Orji and Sanju Pradhan. Then, Edeh Chidi’s sniper skills inside the rival box is always an X-factor. And, one should also not forget that Chidi’s partner upfront, Baljit Sahni, has been in tremendous form this season. So Sporting Clube have a difficult job of containing a potent East Bengal attack.
However, the likely back-four — Naoba Singh, Uga Okpara, Gurwinder Singh and Saumik Dey — will have to stay alert of the counter attacks that Clube’s young players are capable of.
Clube coach Ekendra Singh has limited options, but youth is an advantage in his team. Also, in Ogba Kalu and Bertrand Benik Tequwa Bong they have two able foreign recruits.
While East Bengal will be hogging all the limelight on Friday, another team from Calcutta will be quietly trying to make their presence felt on the national football circuit. CFL Premier Division team Kalighat MS, who fought through the qualifying round to make the main draw, will play against ONGC.
Kalighat have been impressive with their limited resources and one wouldn’t be surprised if they come out the winners on Friday.