Buoyant by their big win over their arch-rivals last Sunday,East Bengal are ready to take on Mohammedan Sporting in the I-League 17th round clash at the Yuba Bharati Krirangan (YBK) tomorrow. On paper,the red-and-golds are a much better team and will start as firm favourites. But football is a funny game and Md Sporting have resources to pull off an upset.
East Bengal will miss centreback Mehrajuddin Wadoo,out suspended. Nirmal Chhetri is likely to replace him. East Bengal coach Subhas Bhowmick feels that they have to keep an eye on Md Sporting midfielder Adebayo Adewusi.
He is one of the most consistent players in the I-League, Bhowmick said on the match eve. Ishmael Ado will be given the job to keep him in check. Ado was very successful in canceling out Mohun Bagans Marcos Pereira in the derby. He once again has quite a job at hand tomorrow.
Md Sporting coach Sabbir Ali,on the other hand,is going to mark Yusif Yakubu tight. He (Yakubu) is the nucleus of their team. He is very dangerous in the penetrative zone, Ali said.
That Md Sporting have a very well-organised defence is a real positive. Ali is likely to employ zonal marking for Yakubu.
About his teams chances,Ali said: In the first half of the season,with Theodore Sunday playing as lone striker and Mike Okoro feeding him as a withdrawn forward,the attacks were a lot sharper. After Eugene Grays arrival,we changed the formation as Gray wanted to play from the deep. But it has put Mike in a sort of dilemma as he is yet to strike the right chord with Gray. It will take some time. Tomorrow,however,I need Mike in top shape as he is my No 1 player upfront.
Some of the Md Sporting players feel that with some luck they can win against East Bengal.
They will be a tad complacent after their win against Bagan. We have to capitalise on their mistakes. We have been playing well this season,but goals are not coming. This is the reason why we are in the relegation zone. Hopefully,the tide will turn from tomorrow, said Jothi Kumar.
East Bengal are placed sixth with 22 points,while Md Sporting are in 11th spot with 14 points.