East Bengal will be looking to upturn an adverse record in recent times against Shillong Lajong FC before securing a Federation Cup semifinal berth. Having lost the first outing 1-2 while visiting the former in Guwahati barely three days ago, East Bengal needs at least a 1-0 win at home here at Vidyasagar Stadium, Barasat on Wednesday, to ensure a passage to the next stage and end the winless streak that has extended in the last five outings.
Lajong FC would be ruing the concession of one late goal in its home outing that gives East Bengal the advantage in the reverse fixture. With the ‘away’ goal rule in force a lone goal win is enough to see the host through. Lajong coach Thangboi Singto said his team will be going for a win and in the process seal the semifinal quota. Lajong beat East Bengal in the last two times the teams met (in I-League and Federation Cup) and Singto insisted on continuing with the momentum.
“We have done well in the last two matches against East Bengal and we would like to keep performing well in the future meetings too,” Singto said ahead of the crucial meeting. The Lajong coach was a bit worried about the afternoon (4.30 pm) start that the host has preferred on Wednesday. The visitor had requested to push the start behind by half an hour but it was shot down. Singto said with the day temperature hovering around 40 degrees the match on the artificial surface will be putting a lot of stress on the players.
Trevor Morgan, the Englishman who regained his position as the East Bengal coach after two seasons, looked at a growing list of injury as a bigger challenge than the afternoon heat. East Bengal will be taking heart from the 4-0 drubbing it had handed to Lajong FC at the same venue in their last meeting here in the I-League in February. Morgan will be looking at its foreign firepower, most importantly the Nigerian Ranti Martins and South Korean Do Dong Hyun, to deliver. The host will also be hoping to get back French defender Bernard Mendy, who is recovering from injury.
Injury has already ruled out midfielders Cavin Lobo and Bikash Jairu while making Sehnaj Singh and Rahul Bheke doubtful starters. Morgan put a brave face and stressed that there is enough in the team to overturn the deficit of the first phase. “We are hopeful of overturning the deficit and make it to the next round,” Morgan said.
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