East Bengal will be looking to find form in the Indian Super League-10 when it meets a struggling Mumbai City FC in a matchweek-15 fixture at home in the Salt Lake Stadium here on Tuesday.
East Bengal managed to end a 12-year long drought of national titles under the stewardship of its Spanish coach Carles Cuadrat, when it lifted the Kalinga Super Cup late last month at Bhubaneswar. This achievement did not aid its cause in the ISL where the team is still searching for consistency having won only two matches in 12 appearances.
The best it did was play six draws while losing the remaining four. The last loss came on Saturday in Guwahati when it visited NorthEast United FC, the very team East Bengal blanked 5-0 at home in the first week of December to pick up its second win of the League.
East Bengal will be missing its Brazilian striker Cleiton Silva to suspension while its Spanish duo of Pardo and Saul Crespo remain uncertain with injury. The arrival of Costa Rican forward Felicio Brown and Spanish midfielder Victor Vazquez in a mid-season transfer is buoying the teams’ hopes ahead of the match.
Felicio made his debut for East Bengal significant by scoring the second goal in his team’s loss against NorthEast United but his effort in getting the better of the opposition defence told a lot about his sharpness in the attacking third. Vazquez has also made his debut in the team’s previous outing to give Cuadrat the options to rely on in the team’s next few round.
The East Bengal gaffer spoke about rotating the squad while looking for fresh legs ahead of the important campaign. “We will do rotations in the squad. We are going to use some players that have been helping the team but not participating with those many minutes,” Cuadrat said.
“It is sad to lose Cleiton, so we must be intelligent at this moment of the season. The calendar isn’t protecting my players, so I will be the one protecting them. The health of the players is important to be competitive, and we will have a lot of finals in front of us,” the East Bengal coach said as he looked to address the burnout problem besieging his side.
East Bengal is currently placed ninth in the League standings with 12 points from as many matches while Mumbai City FC is placed fifth with 22 points from 12 matches. Having lost 2-3 against Jamshedpur FC at home in its previous outing, the Islanders will be keen to return to winning form and strengthen its knock-out stage chances.
The defending League Shield winner has been erratic in its last few performances as it lost two while winning as many in the recent five appearances. The other match ended in a draw. Mumbai City FC’s Czech coach Petr Kratky knows the team is still in the title race and hoped that his boys will get back the winning rhythm.
The Mumbai City FC will be missing Argentine Jorge Pereyra Diaz and Gurkirat Singh, who are suspended since the team’s acrimonious exit from the Super Cup semifinals.
“We have had a good week of preparation and the boys are looking very sharp, so we hope things will play out well in terms of application on Tuesday. If we do the things well, it will help us, and we are looking forward to the game,” Kratky said.
Mumbai City was held goalless by East Bengal when the latter visited Mumbai midway in December. It will be a good chance for the Islanders to avenge the previous setback while returning to winning form.
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