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

East Bengal will look to make the home advantage count when they take on debutants DSK Shivajians in a round four fixture of I-League football at the Vidyasager Krirangan at Barasat.

Will home team East Bengal notch a win against DSK Shivajians?   -  AIFF Media

East Bengal will look to make the home advantage count when they take on debutants DSK Shivajians in a round four fixture of I-League football at the Vidyasager Krirangan at Barasat on Tuesday.

East Bengal had three successive away matches including Saturday’s derby which was Mohun Bagan’s home match as they have one win and two draws to remain third with five points in the league standings.

Having started as ‘underdogs’ in the derby, East Bengal put up a spirited show to share the honours with bitter rivals Mohun Bagan in their 1-1 draw. Youngsters Bikash Jairu, Abhinas Ruidas and Rahul Bheke were impressive for the red-and-gold brigade. It was the ever-reliable Ranty Martins who put them ahead from a brilliant half volley in the 63rd minute after being put through by Jairu.

The team would want their South Korean star recruit Do Dong Hyun, recovering from a calf injury, to get back his silken touch as they take on a struggling Shivajians, who are yet to score a goal in the top tier tournament.

“We have to get the home advantage to count and get back into winning momentum,” East Bengal coach Biswajit Bhattacharya said. The Kolkata-based heavyweights have a series of home matches lined up, including an encounter with 2013-14 winners Bengaluru FC in round five on January 30.

DSK Shivajians, the latest entrants to the top-tier league from Pune, are seventh in the table with one point from two matches and they go into the match after a defeat to other newcomers Aizawl FC (0-2) in the last round.

The Shivajians have seasoned campaigners Subrata Paul guarding their goal and Mohammad Rafi playing up front. Their foreign signings Haroon Amiri and Douhou Pierre Dipanda will also be looking to make significant contributions.

They also have young talent including Lallianzuala, who scored a couple of goals for India at the recent South Asian Football Federation’s (SAFF) Championship, in their ranks.

The away side had started off against Sporting clube de Goa with a goal less draw in Goa but could not earn a point in Mizoram.

Veteran coach Derrick Pereira conceded that it won’t be easy to earn a point against East Bengal especially after they put up a good display in the Kolkata Derby.

Pereira will persist with Aser Dipanda in attack while maintaining a 4-5-1 formation with Milan Singh in midfield along with Douhou Pierre.

The Red and Gold brigade will be all fired up after putting up a gallant display against Mohun Bagan. Biswajit Bhattacharya did not want to discount DSK Shivajians and said, “I am good friends with Derrick (Pereira) and they are a tough team. We have to be at our prime form to clinch a win against them.”

Arnab Mondal will look to partner with Bello Rasaq at the back while Do Dong Hyun will link up with Ranti Martins up front for the home side. Bhattacharya was also relieved by Cavin Lobo’s recovery from an injury with the Goan likely to feature in the starting line-up.

While Derrick Pereira will look to garner his first three points, East Bengal need to make the most of their home matches to prove themselves as worthy challengers for the title this season.

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