I-League: East Bengal set for ‘high-intensity’ Aizawl

The loss to Chennai City FC pushed East Bengal to the fourth spot, while Aizawl is yet to register a win in the tournament.

Aizawl had a tough start with only two points in its respective five games.   -  I-LEAGUE

 

Title favourite East Bengal will take on former champion Aizawl FC in the 25th game of the I-League at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium here on Saturday.

Incidentally, both teams go into the fixture on the back of losses against the same opponent — table-toppers Chennai City FC.

After a 100 per cent win record at start, East Bengal slipped to the fourth spot after the sole loss in its third game.

Aizawl had a tough start with only two points in its respective five games. Still without a win, it will try to crawl up. Strikers have been a let down for the home team as three of its five goals came from set-pieces. Liberian striker Ansumanah Kromah did manage to get a field goal to his name in the last outing but he will need to do better.

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Head coach Gift Raikhan will look to play Kyrgyzstani midfielder Bektur Talgat and Nigerian centre-back Kareem Nurain, who missed out against Chennai due to an injury.

Bektur has looked the most enterprising among all Aizawl midfielders and deserves more game time. Kareem tightens the defence. He also has a history of scoring goals.

“We are yet to win a match. We need that badly. Once we achieve it, I am sure we’ll gain more confidence for the upcoming matches. We’ll attack against East Bengal. But while attacking, we shouldn’t make any mistake in defence. We committed one and Chennai punished us. That’s one area where we should be more careful tomorrow,” said Raikhan.

Midfield has been a worry for East Bengal. Mahmoud Al Amna’s absence is surely being felt by coach Alejandro Menendez. The Syrian midfielder is still recovering from an injury.

East Bengal strikers Jobby Justin and Mexican Enrique Esqueda have scored five goals between them but coach Menendez might take the opportunity to test Bali Gagandeep in this game. The striker had played a key role in Minerva’s title win last season.

“We are worried about Aizawl's high-intensity game. Their energy level is very high and we have to be apt to get a win against them. After the last match, we have to get back to the winning ways sooner than later and tomorrow we'll try our level best to get that win.

“Aizawl haven't been able to get a win so far but that doesn't mean that they are going to be an easy opponent. We have seen their last match and we know how challenging this match is going to be,” Menendez said.

Match starts 2 pm

Live on Star Sports 3