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Big challenge for Bengal

Calcutta: Bengal will have to buck up fast if they harbour any hope of making it to the last-four stage of the Santosh Trophy. On Saturday they take on Goa at the Kanchenjunga Stadium in Siliguri and a victory will keep them on track for semi-final. Bengal were unimpressive against Punjab, barring the first 20 minutes when they did put some pressure on the opposition defence.

Goa will not be easy meat for the 31-time champions even though the former lost to Tamil Nadu the other day. There is one Sachin Gawas who has impressed one and all with his speed and guile and the Bengal defence will have to be on their toes in dealing with this winger.

Gawas had two assists in Goa’s 2-3 loss to Tamil Nadu and was undoubtedly the best player on the field. “He is good, but we are ready,” coach Sisir Ghosh said from Siliguri.

Sisir agreed his team did not play well against Punjab. “Yes, we failed to dictate terms. But Punjab match was our first tie. Boys will put up a better show on Saturday. One thing for sure, we have to be more forceful and creative in the attacking third.”

Abhishek Aich is nursing a niggle in his ankle, but is expected to get a start. “We will take a call on Saturday,” Ghosh said. Goalkeeper Debjit Majumder had a fantastic game against Punjab and it was due to his performance that Bengal managed to get at least a point on Thursday.

Talking about Goa, they were distinctly unlucky against both Punjab and Tamil Nadu. The Vishwas Gaonkar-coached side conceded injury-time goals in both the matches and that is a worrying sign. “It’s a do-or-die match for us. We have to win this match to stay in contention. But we have to break this last-minute goal jinx,” Gaonkar said.