ISL 2020-21 preview: Interesting clash on cards as FC Goa takes on SC East Bengal in return engagement

ISL 2020-21: FC Goa will take on SC East Bengal in match 75 of the 2020-21 Indian Super League season at the Fatorda Stadium.

FC Goa and SC East Bengal played out a 1-1 draw in the first phase of the tournament.   -  SPORTZPICS/ISL

FC Goa will face a tough test when it takes on a resurgent SC East Bengal in an ISL fixture at the Fatorda Stadium on Friday. Having played out a 1-1 draw against a 10-man East Bengal in the first phase of the tournament, Goa will have to muster an inspired performance to go one better in the return engagement.

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The task will be challenging for the host as it will be without its key central defenders, Ivan Gonzalez and James Donachie. Gonzalez is serving a suspension owing to the red card he received in the 1-1 draw against Kerala Blasters. Donachie limped off midway through the action in the same match and is likely to be ruled out. Goa will also be without its coach Juan Ferrando, who received the suspension in the bruising contest with Kerala.

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“The most important thing about this team during this period (unbeaten run) is the adaptation to the new style of the coach,” said FC Goa assistant coach and former India player Clifford Miranda about his team’s unbeaten run in the past six matches where it won thrice. “We are moving towards our objective step by step on the path laid out by our head coach,” he added.

The standout event in the two sides’ last meeting was the world-class solo goal from East Bengal’s Bright Enobakhare. The young Nigerian striker has since been a key man in the East Bengal line-up ever since then. “He is a good player, there's no doubt about it and has helped SC East Bengal improve its showing since his arrival. But there's no such plan to stop one player because if we start concentrating on him, there are nine other outfield players who can hurt us. We will play the way we play,” Miranda said.

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East Bengal, which lost the last outing 1-0 against current leader Mumbai City FC after a seven match unbeaten run, will be keen to wrest a point from the Goa outfit. Despite losing against Mumbai City East Bengal put up a good fight and remained alive in the game right until the end. This is the point that will inspire the visitor.

"It's certainly an opportunity to get back to the winning ways,” said the former Everton and Manchester City midfielder Tony Grant, who is now assisting Liverpool legend and head coach Robbie Fowler. “This season we lost our captain (Danny Fox) early on and it hurt us. It is going to hurt every team that is missing two of its better players," Grant said looking at the possible absentees in the Goa team. 

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It will be interesting if Goa fields India defender Adil Khan, who recently joined the club on-loan from Hyderabad FC. Similarly East Bengal has former Indian goalkeeper Subrata Paul, who has also been loaned out by Hyderabad. Paul returns to the red and gold squad after a break of 12 years.

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