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Kolkata, Nov 2 (IBNS) The stage is set for one of the most potent contests in Indian football. When Federation Cup champion East Bengal take on the owners of the I-league Dempo SC at the Salt Lake stadium, on Saturday (November 3), one can expect a feast of high quality soccer.
Having realised their supremacy in the Cup format, East Bengal now faces the biggest challenge of proving themselves in the League, where Dempo are the master and has already set their camp on the top of the current standings. East Bengal are the fourth with seven points.
The expectations are on ascendance more because the match at Kolkata’s Salt Lake Stadium will see the two of the most tactically proficient coaches – East Bengal’s English coach Trevor James Morgan and his highly decorated Indian counterpart Armando Colaco leading Dempo’s fortunes – facing each other.
“East Bengal have one of the best coaches currently working in India,” Colaco heightened the tempo for the contest with an unstinted praise for his counterpart. “East Bengal is a set team and is playing in a good rhythm and we would hope for a good match tomorrow,” the Dempo set things in perspective.
Strengthened by the addition of the much-flaunted EPL recruit – Rohan Ricketts – in their ranks, Dempo attack appears to have gained more edge as Colaco will have a wider option alongside his two regular attackers Koko Sakibo and Joaquim Abranches.
There have been reports of a brewing disagreement between Colaco and Ricketts about the playing position of the player. The coach preferred a withdrawn position while the latter looked for a purely offensive role. Both have denied this as media speculations and have insisted on having the perfect harmony in the side.
The Dempo midfield remains one of their high points with the presence India campaigners Climax Lawrance and Clifford Miranda in prominent positions in the middle of the park.
After their hard fought win over Pune FC in the previous match, East Bengal will have to raise their game to find a footing against Dempo. East Bengal have a statistical advantage over the Goa giant having won 10 and drawn 6 in overall 26 meetings in the National/I-League.
The stats overwhelmingly favour the hosts in the matches played at the Salt Lake Stadium, where East Bengal won 8 out of the 10 meetings.
“Records don’t count in a situation where we are up against a very good side. It will be a new match and will have different equation,” Morgan said dismissing favourite tag set on statistics.
“We are looking for three points and records don’t matter here,” the coach added. One aspect that will encourage the East Bengal fans is that Trevor Morgan has an enviable record against Dempo. East Bengal under Morgan have won five, drew one and lost just once in the seven meetings between the two sides.
What may be bothering Morgan most could well be the dearth of goals in the tournament as East Bengal have scored only two goals while managing to win their last two outings by the slenderest margin. Dempo, on the other hand, have been much more prolific and have nine goals to their favour.
The forward line with Nigerian Edeh Chidi and Manandeep Singh will have to be more accurate in their business and Morgan may alter the likes of Robin Singh and Baljit Sahni in the bench to sharpen the attack.
East Bengal will look for midfield dominance with an effective combination of Mehtab Hossain and Nigerian Orji Penn in the creative zone but they are going to miss their goal-keeper Abhijit Mondal, who injured his arm against Pune and has been advised rest for at least three weeks.
With Uga Okpara, Arnab Mondal, Gurwiner Singh, Saumik Dey and Naoba Singh, Morgan has lot of options in the defence, which remains the key in the host’s efforts to achieve the maximum number of points from the match.