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A clash of confidence

- Arnab return TO bolster East Bengal defence today

Calcutta: There’s something very interesting about Bangladesh’s Dhanmondi Club. While they train in blue-and-white striped shirts resembling the Argentina jersey, on match days they don the bright yellow of Brazil.

One isn’t sure what’s the idea behind such a practice, but on Tuesday, when they face Kingfisher East Bengal in the first semi-final of the 118th edition of the IFA Shield, at the Salt Lake Stadium, one will get to see their true colours. That’s because they will be up against, perhaps, the best team of the tournament.

Yes, Dhanmondi have played interesting football so far, but to reach the IFA Shield final, they will have to outsmart East Bengal in every department of the game.

East Bengal are quietly confident about their game. They failed in the Federation Cup, but in their last two matches of the Shield, they have shown the composure that is expected of them.

There’s a reason why most of the I-League coaches feel that East Bengal have the best team this season.

Coach Armando Colaco has always been an uncomplicated man. It’s as if he stands on the mountain of his vast experience and the problems, if any, appear dot-like to him. You trust him to be the efficient doctor to all woes.

East Bengal, despite the talent they possess this season, have flattered to deceive on a few occasions. There’s no particular reason for that. It’s like one of those niggles that you suddenly discover after waking up from sleep one fine morning.

It’s not reason enough to panic, but it does require attention. Colaco, it appears, have found the sick nerve and have taken care of it. The East Bengal players look settled, their ways reflecting a happy confidence.

With Edeh Chidi and James Moga combining well upfront and the midfield weaving the required passes, East Bengal will just have to do their basics right to avert any possible danger on Tuesday.

Dhanmondi have an impressive group of foreign recruits in Sony Nordy, Wedson Anselme and Emeka Darlington.

All three play in the attacking zone and looked quite nippy in their last match, against Mohun Bagan. Nordy from Haiti, of course, was the shinning star.

They play their passes well and can retain the ball for long periods. That’s one area which East Bengal will have to check. They can’t afford to leave possession to Dhanmondi. With the injured Mehtab Hussain still unavailable, someone will have to chase down the balls in the midfield.

Colaco doesn’t want to tinker with the team much. They are winning, so why change, he says. But Arnab Mondal, who missed a match with card-related suspension, will come back in the heart of defence.

In Nigerian Uga Okpara’s absence, Arnab’s presence would hopefully assure them better protection from Nordy’s mischievous runs and sudden shots .

Like Colaco, Dhanmondi coach Joseph Afusi, too, is a confident man.

Afusi, however, didn’t reveal his strategies. “We have a few plans to counter their strengths... But those are confidential,” he said.

The smiling Nigerian, who was a little unhappy with the practice facilities on Monday, declared that the match wouldn’t roll into extra time or penalties. Colaco, on the other hand, said his boys are ready for even 120 minutes of football.

There will be a lot of colour in Tuesday’s contest. It will be a lively match, confidence vs confidence.