I-League 2018/19: East Bengal set to host defending champions Minerva Punjab in a must win game

XtraTime Web Desk: City giants Quess East Bengal will face defending champions Minerva Punjab FC in a must win game of the 12th edition of  Hero I-League tomorrow at the VYBK Stadium in Kolkata on Tuesday.

The Red & Gold Brigade are currently at 8th place in the Hero I-League points table after playing four matches where as Minerva is at sixth place with eight points in six matches.

The Red and Golds have played some entertaining football in their first two outings, having defeated Shillong Lajong FC and Neroca FC. However, their defeats in the last two games against table toppers Chennai City FC and Aizawl FC might just be a dampener in their preparations for this crucial game against the defending champions.

What also needs to be seen is that though the hosts have scored eight goals in four games, they also have conceded six. Head Coach Alejandro Garcia would be interested in organising his defensive line which has quite often allowed the opponents to breach into the danger zone this season.

“After two losses we want to win a match. Our priority will be to win again tomorrow. Minerva is a good team. Their style of play is very different and to defend against them is very difficult at times. But we are playing at our home and we have to play better than them,” said Garcia.

Jobby Justin and Spaniard Enrique Esqueda have been the star performers for East Bengal this season, having scored three goals each. Both of them have shown immense strength and prowess, and can prove to be quite threatening on their day.

Having lost against Chennai City FC at home, Alejandro Garcia and his team would want to return to winning ways for themselves and the huge fan base that they boast of in Kolkata and other parts of India.

On the contrary, Minerva Punjab FC have still not been able to find a compact attacking unit as it’s evident from the fact that they have just scored five goals in six games.

A major concern for the club has been the unavailability of their star striker Yu Kobi, who hasn’t been able to start a single game due to a prolonged injury layoff.

“Last year was last year. It’s a new team this year and a new season as well. We have started from the scratch and we are trying to improve with every game,” Paul Munster stated.

“It’s still early and we are taking one match at a time. The league is very tight and surely, East Bengal will look to grab all three points tomorrow just as the way we want to.”

On being asked about the rivalry between the two clubs that has grown recently, Paul Munster said, “I am told about the rivalry between both the clubs and I think that is also motivating for us to perform well and give our full in the game tomorrow.”

Their current strike force,  the of Nigerian duo of Donatus Edafe and Philip Njoku, have somehow not clicked so far. However, the two goals scored by Njoku still acts as somewhat of a saving grace for the defending champions. Minerva’s Irish coach Munster would definitely want to exploit the weak defence of Quess East Bengal through his strike force.

What still goes in the favour of the visitors is that they enter this game on the back of a win against Indian Arrows.


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