Football

East Bengal looking here and there!

Ready to roar: East Bengal does not look at Gokulam Kerala FC, a side which it beat 3-1 earlier, as a big threat.  

Are you under pressure? You are very close to your first I-League title, will you sleep peacefully tonight? Will you be keen to know mid-match about what is happening in Coimbatore between Chennai City FC and Minerva Punjab?

A lot of questions about the various possibilities that could happen on Saturday, the I-League’s deciding day, were thrown at East Bengal coach Alejandro Menendez on the eve of his team’s crucial game against Gokulam Kerala FC at the EMS Corporation Stadium here on Friday evening.

But the Spaniard, a former Real Madrid youth coach, tried to cut down the noise as much as possible.

“We are trying to stay quiet, enjoying the moment and looking at our fans cheering for us,” said Alejandro. “We have full confidence in our team, we are ready to go for a win.”

A win on Saturday alone may not be enough for the Red-and-Gold brigade to lay its hands on the I-League trophy for the first time. For East Bengal, with 39, is just a point behind league leader Chennai City and will want the latter to either lose or draw against defending champion Minerva in Coimbatore.

“The best thing for us is to try to focus on our match and then see what happens,” said Alejandro.

Jobby Justin to be missed

With its star striker, Mexican Enrique Esqueda, in fine touch now on his comeback after a rib injury, East Bengal does not look at Gokulam Kerala FC, a side which it beat 3-1 earlier, as a big threat. However, it will be without forward Jobby Justin, who was slapped with a six-match suspension for an ugly spat with an Aizawl FC defender earlier.

Meanwhile, Gokulam coach Gift Raikhan said though his team — which is near the bottom with 17 points — does not have anything to lose, it will fight.

“I don’t have anything to gain, I have nothing to lose but I want to win. We are under no pressure, so our players will be playing with a free mind. They will prove that they are equal to East Bengal.”

With that being the situation, the visitors opted for a 1 p.m. training session, under a burning sun, so that they could go to bed early and rest well for their big day.

The match starts at 5 p.m.

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Printable version | May 6, 2021 9:36:25 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/football/east-bengal-looking-here-and-there/article26474871.ece

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