East Bengal will miss its star midfielder Jaime Santos Colado when it hosts debutant TRAU FC in an I-League fixture in Kolkata on Saturday. The Spaniard, who starred with a brace in a 4-1 rout of NEROCA FC in his side's previous outing, has landed in trouble following his conduct with ball boys in East Bengal's match against Punjab FC in Ludhiana on December 7.
The midfielder reportedly stirred a controversy when he walked over to the ball boys, started arguing and then kicked a ball towards them. The misconduct was later brought to the match commissioner’s notice and subsequently it was forwarded to the disciplinary committee, which suspended the player.
Alejandro Menendez will thus miss the services of the star against TRAU FC, a match which is seen as a dress rehearsal for the red-and-golds ahead of their Kolkata derby against Mohun Bagan on December 22. In such a scenario, it remains to be seen whether Jaime will be allowed to play the much-anticipated derby.
East Bengal looked in its elements against NEROCA and another win on Saturday will push it to the top of the table. The victory against NEROCA was its first win of the season which came through a clinical show by its Spanish trio of Jaime, who converted twice from the spot, Juan Mera Gonzalez and Marcos Jimenez, who were also on target.
The win helped East Bengal jump to the third spot in the table with five points from three games and it will hope to gather full points on Saturday to stay two points clear of leader Churchill Brothers. In the absence of Jaime, the former Real Madrid Castilla coach will have to bank on the other two Spanish recruits - Juan and Marcos.
“Marcos is not very fast but he has a special ability that is very good for the I-League. He is very good in duels. He coordinates well with the other attacking players like Jaime (Santos) or Juan Mera,” the coach said.
“He shields the centre-backs very well and creates space for other attacking players. He is not a player who is spectacular to watch but he is a very good number nine. Fans are the biggest treasure of this club and we all come behind them. They are number one, the spirit and soul of this club and are our main protagonists,” he said.
The visitor, on the other hand, had a tough start to its maiden I-League campaign, having lost 0-1 at Chennai City and leaking four goals against Mohun Bagan in its latest match. TRAU is yet to open its account and its Brazilian technical director Douglas Silva will have his task cutout.
“All the matches of the I-League will be difficult for us because we are new and young but our players are confident enough to face everyone. It is a great opportunity to play in the I-League and not because we are playing against any particular team. We look at all teams the same way,” Douglas said.
The visitor will hope that Gurpreet continues to be rock-solid under the goal and its striking duo of Nigerian Princewell Emeka and Ghanian Abednego Tetteh deliver for the team.