I-League: East Bengal looks to return to winning ways

The Kolkata giants will be up against defending champion Minerva Punjab at home on Tuesday.

East Bengal began the league with consecutive wins — against Neroca FC and Shillong Lajong — in its away matches.   -  PTI

Kolkata giants East Bengal would look to bounce back from its back-to-back defeats and return to winning ways when it faces defending champion Minerva Punjab FC in its I-League match on Tuesday.

East Bengal began the league with consecutive wins — against Neroca FC and Shillong Lajong — in its away matches but then suffered defeats against table-topper Chennai City FC and Aizawl FC. It would look to arrest the losing streak.

Minerva Punjab FC is on eight points from two wins and equal number of losses and draws.

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East Bengal head coach Alejandro Garcia would be looking to organise his defence line which has quite often allowed the opponent to breach into the danger zone this season.

“After two losses we want to win a match. Our priority will be to win tomorrow. Minerva is a good team. Their style of play is very different and to defend against them is very difficult at times. But we are playing at our home and we have to play better than them,” said Garcia.

Jobby Justin and Spaniard Enrique Esqueda have been the top performers for East Bengal this season, having scored three goals each. Both of them have shown immense strength and prowess, creating a lot of trouble for the opponents and can prove to be quite threatening on their day.

Minerva Punjab have still not been able to find a compact attacking unit as evident from the fact that they have just scored five goals from six games.

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A major concern for the Punjab club has been the unavailability of their star striker Yu Kobi who has not been able to start a single game due to a prolonged injury lay-off.

“Last year was last year. It is a new team this year and a new season as well. We have started from scratch and we are trying to improve with every game,” head coach Paul Munster said.

“It is still early and we are taking one match at a time. The league is very tight and surely, East Bengal will look to grab all three points tomorrow just as the way we want to.”

Asked about the rivalry between the two clubs that has grown recently, Munster said, “I am told about the rivalry between both the clubs and I think that is also motivating for us to perform well and give our full to the game tomorrow.”

The current strike force of Nigerian duo of Donatus Edafe and Philip Njoku have somehow not clicked so far to wreak havoc on their opponents.