Combination a worry for EB

Already having suffered a major setback by losing to Peerless SC in their previous game, the only way East Bengal can keep alive their hopes of retaining the CFL Premier Division A title is by winning their last two remaining matches.

By A Staff Reporter in Calcutta
  • Published 11.09.18
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Kamalpreet Singh (left) and Johnny Acosta during training at East Bengal ground, on Monday. A Telegraph picture

Calcutta: Already having suffered a major setback by losing to Peerless SC in their previous game, the only way East Bengal can keep alive their hopes of retaining the CFL Premier Division A title is by winning their last two remaining matches.

They face Mohammedan Sporting at the Salt Lake Stadium on Tuesday, which certainly is a must-win game for them. If they lose points, East Bengal will only sink deeper into the hole they themselves have dug, while Mohun Bagan's hopes of winning the title after nine years will only be brightened.

If East Bengal fail to win on Tuesday too, they can only pray for a Bagan loss in each of their remaining games.

The loss to Peerless last week had, to a certain extent, exposed the chinks in East Bengal's armoury, so it remains to be seen whether changes are effected in the XI against Mohammedan Sporting. But at present, by coach Bastab Roy's own admission, East Bengal are struggling with their team composition as the experienced Lalrindika Ralte and Brandon Vanlalremdika aren't fully fit.

Mahmoud Al Amna's condition, though, is better as he did practise on the match-eve training session. "Al Amna trained for the entire duration. But whether he's going to play on Tuesday or not will be decided before the game. We won't be rushing towards a decision.

"Besides, Lalrindika and Brandon are also carrying a bit of injury, so we are yet to finalise our team composition," Roy said after Monday's practice at the club ground.

One of East Bengal's main problems so far has been lack of a striker, and not addressing the issue will cause even bigger problems in the I-League. The camp, however, tries to remain optimistic.

"No matter what, we need to do our job, which is to win our remaining matches. The league is not over yet, it will be decided only on the final day of the competition.

"So, anything can still happen if we win our matches," Roy said.

Another thing that looks surprising is East Bengal conceding just one goal before Johnny Acosta's inclusion in the XI and taking in as many as four in their last two games, which the World Cupper was part of.

Mohammedan Sporting, who have been highly inconsistent so far, are, however, taking the Costa Rican quite seriously. "Acosta played in the World Cup before coming here. So, it could be that he was a bit casual (in his approach). It happens with such players.

"But we have to be careful against him because he has the quality, which we saw in the game against Mohun Bagan. He is really good when it comes to set-piece moves, and we have to be aware of that," technical director Raghu Nandy said. Mohammedan Sporting's target will be to finish the league with 21-22 points and move up as much as possible in the standings. "We want to move up in the table,". We played well in our last game and are looking to carry forward the confidence against East Bengal.

"If we can finish with 21-22 points, we won't be too disappointed,"<> Nandy signed off.

Kick-off: 4.30 pm.