Two northern Indian clubs, East Bengal and North East, lock horns in the Saturday encounter of the Indian Football League 2020-21. East Bengal had lost its first two matches, while North East is coming off two successive draws after a triumph in the opening encounter.
Match Timings: Dec 05, 7:30 PM IST
The Highlanders off to the best start to the Indian Football League after a disappointing season in 2019-20. Gerard Nus changed the attitude of this struggling unit. North East made a big surprise in its first encounter after defeating the tournament’s strongest team Mumbai who are sitting in the top two. In matchday-two, Gerard Nus’s men pulled off a fabulous comeback against Kerala after going two goals down. Appiah netted the first goal, and Idrissa Sylla found an equaliser in the final minute to hold the Yellows for a 2-2 draw.
In the third game, North East shared the points in a 1-1 draw with last season’s Shield winner. The Highlanders opened the scoring as they were awarded a penalty in the first half, and Idrissa Sylla used it in the second effort to take North East one goal ahead. Goa didn’t wait for an equaliser, and Igor Angulo netted the goal with a superb cross from Brandon Fernandes.
In the second half, Goa dominated the possession, but Nus’ men had a great opportunity to take the lead in the 87th minute, but Ninthoinganba Meetei failed to deliver it. Under the new head coach, North East is looking like an underdog unit. Northeast’s defense won points for them. Despite losing the possession to the hosts, they couldn’t deliver any opportunity. Provat Lakra replaced Ashutosh Mehta, and he justified his substitution.
Meanwhile, East Bengal’s start to Indian Football League is so poor as they lost its first two matches, conceding five goals. The big fact is they played against the top two sides of the season, and taking points against these two is not an easy task. After losing to Mohun B in Kolkata Derby, Bengal suffered a 3-0 loss to Sergio Lobero’s men.
Robbie Fowler’s side faced a big blow in the starting of the game with losing its defender Daniel Fox to an injury. Mumbai easily broke the deadlock, and former I-League winner Adam Le Fondre scored the goal with a fine backheel pass from Hugo Boumous. Lobero’s side dominated the first half, and they doubled the lead at the starting of the second half. Mumbai got a penalty in the 48th minute, and Fondre completed a brace. The third goal came in the 58th minute, as Boumous set up a pass to Harnan Santana, who scored his maiden goal for the club.
Debjit Majumder’s form will be a big concern for Bengal, who conceded an easy penalty in the last game. Robbie Flower can look back at other options after few matches. The forwards also lack in the ground, and they are not producing a balance for the defense. The experienced Jeje Lalpekhlua was introduced as a substitute against Mumbai to mark his first appearance after one year. He will need some games to find the lost rhythm. Flower would expect some spark and composure from the forward line to draw the debut season's first point.
Possible Lineups & Current Form
Lineup: Subhashish Roy Chowdhury; Ashutosh Mehta, Benjamin Lambot, Dylan Fox, Gurjinder Kumar; Lalengmawia, Khassa Camara, Lalrempuia Fanai; Ninthoinganba Meeitei, Kwesi Appiah, Gurmeet Singh
Current Form: D D W
Previous outing: 1-1 draw with Goa
Lineup: Debjit Majumder; Scott Neville, Mohamed Irshad, Rana Gharami; Surchandra Singh, Matti Steinmann, Wahengbam Angousana, Narayan Das; Anthony Pilkington, Jacques Maghoma; Balwant Singh
Current Form: L L
Previous outing: 3-0 loss against Mumbai
2 goals in pre-season 2020
2 clean-sheets in I-League 2020-21
4 goals in League One 2019-20
2 goal in Indian Football League 2020-21
2 goals in Indian Football League 2020-21