ISL 2020-21 Preview: SC East Bengal, Odisha FC to play for pride
Ninth-placed SC East Bengal needs a victory by four goals or more against Odisha FC to move above Chennaiyin FC in the 2020-21 Indian Super League points table.
SC East Bengal had defeated Odisha FC 3-1 in the ISL 2020-21 reverse leg between the two sides at the Tilak Maidan Stadium in Vasco da Gama (File Photo).
Odisha FC and SC East Bengal are the two teams that have spent the most time at the bottom of the 2020-21 Indian Super League standings. Playing for pride at the GMC Stadium in Bambolim on Saturday, both of them will be looking to end a disappointing ISL campaign on a high.
A victory for either side in game 108 of the ongoing edition could prove vital in the grand scheme of things. OFC and SCEB are set to release a host of players before next season and experience a massive overhaul, except for a few match-winners who might be retained. Hence, several players have a point to prove.
Odisha FC vs SC East Bengal: LIVE BLOG
Moreover, English managers Robbie Fowler (East Bengal) and Stuart Baxter (Odisha) didn't have the best of times in India. They've not only had troubles with the performances of their respective clubs on the field but also with their own post-match interviews on the sidelines.
Post Baxter's exit due to his offensive analogy about rape while talking about a refereeing decision, the Kalinga Warriors were managed by interim coach Gerald Peyton, who has now gone back to Japan for personal reasons. The team is currently under the helm of assistant manager Steven Dias.
"I'm trying to keep the boys motivated in training sessions and meetings. They look ready, and hopefully, it will be a good match because both teams want a win to end on a good note. We will give our best," Dias said ahead of his outfit's final clash in ISL 2020-21.
OFC could match Chennaiyin FC's unwanted record for the least points accumulated in a single edition -- nine in ISL 2018/19 -- with a loss to SCEB. Dias feels the lack of a proper pre-season led to the downfall of the Juggernauts.
"The biggest reason for our failure was when coach Baxter came out of quarantine, he didn’t get much time to work with the squad. I feel if he had enough time to spend with the boys, this season would have gone much better than this. When you have a bad season, there are always positives to take out. And that’s what we are doing," he added.
On the other hand, Fowler will return to the Red and Gold Brigade's dugout after serving out a four-game suspension due to his inappropriate remarks against Indian referees. This will be a major boost for them in an attempt to seal the eighth spot.
Ninth-placed East Bengal needs a victory by four goals or more to move above CFC in the points table. It had scored three past OFC in the reverse outing at the Tilak Maidan in January and will be looking to capitalise on the outside chance.
SCEB's Raju Gaikwad is suspended for the upcoming fixture on Saturday night after receiving a red card against NorthEast United FC three days ago. Star striker Bright Enobakhare and skipper Daniel Fox are doubtful too, while Odisha has a fully fit squad.
Odisha FC: Kamaljit Singh, Ravi Kumar, Arshdeep Singh, Ankit Bhuyan, Steven Taylor (England), Shubham Sarangi, Rakesh Pradhan, Gaurav Bora, Hendry Antonay, Jacob Tratt (Australia), Kamalpreet Singh, George D'souza, Mohammad Sajid Dhot, Saurabh Meher, Cole Alexander (South Africa), Nandhakumar Sekar, Paul Ramfangzauva, Samuel Lalmuanpuia, Vinit Rai, Thoiba Singh, Isak Vanlalruatfela, Boaringdao Bodo, Bradden Inman (Australia), Lalhrezuala Sailung, Jerry Mawihmingthana, Manuel Onwu (Spain), Daniel Lalhlimpuia, Laishram Premjit Singh, Diego Mauricio (Brazil).
SC East Bengal: Subrata Paul, Debjit Majumder, Mirshad Michu, Suvam Sen, Daniel Fox (Scotland), Narayan Das, Raju Gaikwad, Ankit Mukherjee, Sarthak Golui, Scott Neville (Australia), Rana Gharami, Eugeneson Lyngdoh, Bikash Jairu, Matti Steinmann (Germany), Sourav Das, Haobam Tomba Singh, Jacques Maghoma (DR Congo), Sehnaj Singh, Surchandra Singh, Wahengbam Luwang, Aaron Amadi-Holloway (Wales), Mohammed Rafique, Yumnam Singh, Jeje Lalpekhlua, Anthony Pilkington (Ireland), Balwant Singh, C. K. Vineeth, Harmanpreet Singh, Bright Enobakhare (Nigeria).