Unbeaten sides square up in mouthwatering I-League tussle

Chennai City FC and East Bengal are first and second on the I-League table after a flawless start to the new season.

East Bengal has won its opening two I-League fixtures and has a chance to move to the summit position should it beat Chennai City on Tuesday.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

East Bengal squares up against Chennai City FC in Kolkata’s Yuba Bharati Krirangan (YBK) on Tuesday, in what promises to be a mouthwatering top-of-the-table clash between two in-form teams in the ongoing 12th edition of the I-League.

Chennai sits atop the standings with seven points from three games having scored nine goals, easily the highest by any team so far. East Bengal has won both its fixtures so far, while also playing attractive football.

Both sides are well-rested with East Bengal set to return to action after a 12-day hiatus while the visiting Chennai City will be playing after a nine-day gap.

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Chennai is coming off a morale-boosting away win against Gokulam and its Singaporean coach, Akbar Nawas, will be particularly happy with the way his three Spanish attackers Javier Pedro Manzi, who is the league’s top scorer so far with four goals, Nestor Jesus and Sandro have performed in every game.

What will also enthuse Nawas is the fact that he has six players who have scored in the league so far, indicating the lack of over-reliance on anyone. The fact that its local stars like Edwin Sydney Vanspaul, Romario Jesuraj and Pravitto Raju have gelled well with the foreigners, is another major positive.

Coach Nawas, while sharing his thoughts on match eve, said, “We would like to approach our game one at a time giving due consideration to the opponent. Each game we must strive to be competitive and win and if we draw or lose we must reflect upon ourselves. As for being top, it's nice but its still very early in the season therefore I wouldn't want to count the chickens before they hatch. All East Bengal players are capable of conjuring up something, thus we must be mindful, taking note of their key players as well.”

The host has also been impressive and professional in its campaign winning both its away games in the Northeast and has hardly looked stretched. Its Spanish coach Alejandro Menendez Garcia has put together a compact side with a solid back four and, at the other end, both the strikers have fired.

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Garcia, however, was both cautious and respectful in a pre-game chat, saying, “We are hoping for three points tomorrow. Chennai City are a strong team as they are on the top of the table now. We have an advantage because its our home match but we need to be careful. Amna will not play because of his injury. Lets hope for the best.”

East Bengal will go into the game with a 4-1 head-to-head record, including a 3-1 score in I-League matches. It remains to be seen which team comes away with the bragging rights this time round in what one assumes will be a packed stadium.

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