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Okpara boost for EB

- Will put up a better show, promises Md. Sp. coach Sen
James Moga and Edeh Chidi, during a practice session, at the club ground, on Monday. A Telegraph picture

Calcutta: Kingfisher East Bengal are eagerly awaiting the return of Uga Okpara when they take on a struggling Mohammedan Sporting in an I-League match, here, on Tuesday.

East Bengal, though, are not exactly in great shape in the I-League. They are at eighth spot, with 20 points from 14 encounters. Mohammedan Sporting are battling to beat the drop with 17 points from 17 matches, and are placed 12th in the 13-team league. Only Churchill Brothers are below them.

East Bengal coach Armando Colaco, who created a flutter a few days back when he said his team lacked a leader, on Monday said he believed a leader is someone who can inspire the team.

“Uga is such a leader and hopefully he will be back in action on Tuesday,” the coach said.

However, East Bengal will miss the services of Mehtab Hussain and goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu. Mehtab is carrying an injury sustained during India’s recent friendly against Bangladesh.

Gurpreet, on the other hand, had been absent from practice due to personal reasons and may not find a place in the team on Tuesday. The coach said Abhijit Mondal will be under the bars.

“We will strive to garner maximum points tomorrow as it will boost the confidence of the team,” he said.

Asked whether Chidi will play, the coach said: “I will take a call on Chidi tomorrow.”

Chidi, though, had attended the day’s practice session, something that should raise hopes of his availability. Given the extent of his injury, it could be wise if he rests for another day or two for complete recovery. Just pure desire and willingness to play will serve neither his team’s nor his purpose.

East Bengal will look to end their five-match winless streak and Colaco has been under pressure in view of the team’s poor showing. And there are whispers abound that Trevor James Morgan may find his way back as coach.

Asked whether such rumours are affecting him and the team, Colaco said: “I have been hired to do a job and I am trying to do that. I am here for about four months and I need time to settle down.”

Mohammedan Sporting coach Sanjoy Sen is optimistic that his team will put up a brave show on Tuesday. Referring to the last match they played against Mohun Bagan, which was lacklustre, Sen blamed the opponents.

“Bagan showed no hunger to go for a win. As a result, we were also forced to play a defensive game. But on Tuesday, I hope East Bengal will play a more positive game and we also will be able to put up a better show,” he said.

“We will devise our strategy based on East Bengal. All our foreign players are fit and there is no reason why we can’t win. If they play both Uga and Chidi we will have to plan accordingly. If one of them play, then our strategy will be different,” he added.

Regarding relegation, Sen had earlier said: “I think 26 points will be enough. However, we are not worried about relegation at all.”

Mohammedan Sporting played inspiring football to beat Sporting Clube de Goa 3-1, but in their very next outing, against Bagan, they looked colourless. However, one thing’s for sure. If Sen’s men want to play positive, attacking football, they can certainly do so.