Calcutta: Injuries and fatigue plague East Bengal as they restart their I-League campaign, against Churchill Brothers, here, on Tuesday.
Placed eighth on the points table with 18 points from 11 matches so far, East Bengal, however, are looking for a more successful second leg and have still not given up hopes of winning the title.
For coach Armando Colaco, this is the real deal. He had repeatedly said that for him, the I-League was the most important tournament. Coach Colaco is no stranger to an I-League triumph though, having previously seen enormous success with Dempo SC.
“My boys are a little tired and there are injuries to deal with also. We have been playing almost non-stop and there has really been no time to recover during the break of the I-League,” he said on Monday, after morning practice. “(James) Moga is down with a groin injury; Raju (Gaikwad) is not fit; Lalrindika Ralte too is carrying an injury. Uga (Okpara) is yet to recover,” rued the East Bengal coach.
However, he said that his players were mentally getting ready for the I-League. “They will play to the best of their abilities and we have a good chance against Churchill,” he added. The coach hinted that if Moga is not fit to play on Tuesday, then Subodh Kumar would play with Mehtab Hussain in the midfeld with Ryuji Sueoka playing upfront with Edeh Chidi.
Churchill Brothers are not really in a great shape either in this I-League, struggling at the 11th spot with 13 points from 14 matches. “We are not in a good position in the League… We need wins,” said their Egyptian midfielder Abdel Hamid Shabana.
However, in the I-League, Churchill have a better record against East Bengal, especially in Calcutta. The last time East Bengal beat them in the city was in January 2010, when Bhaichung Bhutia last scored for the red-and-gold brigade.