| East Bengal players during a practice session at the club ground, on Wednesday. A Telegraph picture |
Calcutta: The Goa sojourn has always posed as a major obstacle for the city’s Big Two clubs in their endeavour to clinch the I-League.
Be it Kingfisher East Bengal or McDowell Mohun Bagan, both have been hit hard by reversals in Goa that eventually crushed their title hopes.
On this occasion, though, East Bengal coach Trevor James Morgan feels his team is better prepared and more equipped to come out on top in testing conditions against Churchill Brothers on Saturday.
“For sure, it’s (Goa) a difficult place for visiting teams. I feel we have been a mixed bag there. Churchill, of course, have made a good start in the competition. And so have we.
“Therefore, I don’t think we fear any particular outfit… And the best thing is that we will be getting a good surface to play. However, the team that performs on the given day and makes lesser mistakes will survive,” Morgan said on the sidelines of Wednesday’s training session at the club ground.
In the previous two editions of the I-League, Salgaocar and Dempo had forced Morgan’s team to finish second best.“You ought to remember that on both occasions, we had to play against teams — that were in the running for the title — only towards the closing stages of the tournament … That too, away from home.
“In that sense, I feel we were a little unfortunate. But in a nutshell, we lost the (I-League) top spot over the course of the season… Not just because of the Goa factor,” Morgan retorted.
Talking about Churchill spearhead Beto and their Lebanese recruit Akram Moghrabi, both of whom have been on target since the 1-2 loss to Dempo in their opening game, Morgan said he was banking on the strong East Bengal midfield that could separate the two sides this weekend.
“We’re well aware of Churchill’s strengths. During the Federation Cup semi-final, Mehtab (Hossain) did a good enough job to keep Beto in check on finding the latter in his zone.
“We do comprise a midfield that can change the complexion of a game in no time. Besides, if we play like the way we did against Dempo — even though we couldn’t win that game — I’m sure the results will come our way,” he emphasised.
East Bengal would make one change in their squad before taking on Churchill — Cavin Lobo making way for Subodh Kumar.
Meanwhile, Australian Andrew Barisic — vying for the fourth foreigner’s slot — would join the squad in Goa prior to his trial.
“We need to have a look at Barisic. But he first has to sort out contractual issues with his current club (Arema Indonesia),” Morgan said.
When reminded about East Bengal lacking an out-and-out striker, Morgan simply snubbed it aside, commenting: “This is not an issue as I'm not concerned about who scores.
“In our previous game (against Air India), Harmanjot Khabra scored twice even though he is normally known to be effective during set-pieces.”