I-League Preview: East Bengal looks to overcome Chennai challenge

East Bengal football team practising on the eve of its I-League match against Chennai City F.C.   -  K. Murali kumar

Current league leader East Bengal will seek to extend its winning form to six straight matches when it takes on Chennai City F.C. in the seventh round of the I-League at the Vidyasagar Stadium, Barasat on Sunday.

A win would help East Bengal match a similar mark set in the 2010-2011 season when its present coach Trevor Morgan made his first appearance for the side.

Aiming for its first I-league title, East Bengal has shown admirable consistency in winning all its previous five matches, which included downing the defending champion Bengaluru F.C. Making its seventh appearance in the tournament, the only sore point for the host remains the 1-1 draw with Aizawl F.C., which happened in the very first outing of the tournament.

"As of now the focus will be to pick up the full three points on Sunday and nothing else. It is not important where we are in the league right now, what matters is where are at the end of the season," Morgan said ahead of East bengal’s seventh outing.

East Bengal plays its traditional rival Mohun Bagan in the next fixture after meeting Chennai and a win before the crucial tie would give the red and gold brigade the psychological boost.

East Bengal will miss midfielder Mehtab Hossain owing to suspension while the rest of the squad is available to Morgan for selection. Trinidad and Tobago striker Willis Plaza and Robin Singh have combined well in the East Bengal attack and Chennai's defence will have to find out a good plan to stop the two.

For Chennai, this will its second successive appearance on the artificial field turf and coach Robin Raja will be hoping his team would have picked up the lessons in the previous match where it lost to Shillong Lajong F.C. (2-0) on a similar surface at the latter’s home.

The visitor will be hoping for the return of captain and key defender D. Ravanan, who missed last two matches owing to injury. However, it will have to continue without the injured goalkeeper Karanjit Singh with the former East Bengal custodian Abhra Mondal coming as replacement once again.

The Brazilian duo in its attack – of Marcos Tank and Charles de Souza – need to fire up their partnership once again to help Chennai's return to winning ways.

Chennai complains about shoddy practice venue

The visitor, Chennai complained about being given a shoddy practice venue ahead of the match day when it was asked to do the training in the Mohammedan Sporting ground, which has not hosted any top division match in the last few years.

"The ground was not fit for proper practice but we had no other option as our host could not arrange any decent venue for training ahead of the crucial match," said a Chennai City F.C. official.

The visitor had practiced at the match venue in Barasat on Friday but it was ruled out today.

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