Calcutta: Defending champions Kingfisher East Bengal face a must-win situation when they take on Sporting Clube de Goa in a Group B match of the Federation Cup, in Manjeri, on Saturday.
After splitting points with Rangdajied United FC in the previous match, East Bengal cannot afford anymore slip-ups if they want to extend their stay beyond the group stage. If the match ends in a draw, and Bengaluru FC beat Rangdajied United then Sunil Chetri and Co. will qualify even before the last group matches.
“We know what the scenario demands. We have to win. That’s it. And I am confident the team will put up a spirited performance,” coach Armando Colaco said.
East Bengal, though, would take inspiration from the past. They came back strongly to pip their rivals in their second fixture after dropping points in their opening outing in 2009, 2011 and 2012 Federation Cup. Interestingly, the four previous meetings between the two teams have failed to produce a result.
Colaco is likely to ring in changes. Cavin Lobo is likely to get a start in place of Joaquim Abranches, while Naoba will make way for either Harmanjyot Singh Khabra or Raju Gaikwad.
East Bengal defence will be bolstered by Arnab Mondal’s return from office engagement, but Colaco refused to divulge whether the India international will feature in the first XI.
In Kochi, McDowell Mohun Bagan face a buoyant Lajong FC in a Group C match and three points will help the Calcutta club brighten their chances of making it to the last four. Importantly, Bagan haven’t been able to beat Lajong in the last couple of meetings between the two sides. No wonder Bencharifa states “Lajong are a very good side.”