East Bengal faces Minerva in a must-win clash

East Bengal takes on I-League table leader Minerva Punjab FC in must-win clash on Tuesday.

There will be a lot of pressure on Khalid Jamil after East Bengal's 2-0 thrashing in the derby game against Mohun Bagan.   -  AIFF Media

 

East Bengal will aim to return to winning ways in order to revive its title aspirations when it faces I-League leader Minerva Punjab FC in a top of the table fixture in Barasat on Tuesday.

Coming off from a 0-2 derby loss against Mohun Bagan on January 21, EB will look to improve its game as this promises to be one of the most- anticipated battles of the season.

The fact both the teams will face each other again within a fortnight’s time in the return leg would mean the result will determine both the teams’ fate. As for the standings, the Punjab outfit is six points clear of East Bengal with a game in hand.

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While Minerva is in pursuit of its maiden I-League title, East Bengal on the other hand has a lot of catching up to do with 19 points from 11 matches as it cannot afford any losses here on. The urgency and desperation in its mindset was evident when it snapped its contract with with misfiring Willis Plaza, who headed to Mohammedan Sporting in the aftermath of the derby defeat.

In another development post the defeat, the side has also roped in Mohun Bagan striker Ansumana Kromah as the Liberian is all set for a debut in the red and gold colours.

All eyes will be on its coach Khalid Jamil after having took full blame on himself of the derby loss. “I’m responsible for the team’s failure. Please don’t blame the players or others. From recruiting overseas players to the disappointing results, I’m the one responsible for these things,” Jamil said after the derby loss.

Currently on a four match winning run, Minerva had also overcome off the field challenges when their owner Ranjit Bajaj had claimed their players were approached to “fix matches“.

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Its latest triumph was against second-placed Neroca FC in Manipur with Chencho Gyeltshen’s brace sealing the win over the Manipuri outfit. The Bhutanese left-winger will be a big threat as it remains to be seen how the likes of Gurwinder Singh and Eduardo live up to the challenge in the backline.

With a huge East Bengal fan following in Barasat in the northern outskirts of the city, the home side will hope to exploit the home advantage to the fullest.

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