I-League: East Bengal desperate to return to winning ways against Arrows (Preview)

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Kolkata, Feb 3 (IANS) East Bengal will aim to return to winning ways after drawing a blank in their last four I-League games when they host All India Football Federation (AIFF) developmental side Indian Arrows at the Barasat Stadium on Sunday.

The hosts need a win to stay afloat in the top four but with their opponents winless in three games themselves, the Khalid Jamil-coached side will be eager to cash in.

Incidentally, East Bengal’s last win in the league came against the Arrows when two early first-half strikes sealed three points in the away fixture on January 2.

East Bengal are currently placed fourth in the points table with the Arrows as low as eighth.

The second half fightback during the 2-2 draw against table toppers Minerva Punjab FC in their previous match will give the hosts a huge confidence boost going into Sunday’s game.

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“We did not go down easily in the last match. We scored two and we have to fight similarly in this match. They (Indian Arrows) are playing well. We have to play good as well,” East Bengal head coach Khalid Jamil commented on the eve of the game.

“We must think about our game. It doesn’t matter where the match is, our work is to play, no matter where. There is pressure. We have six more games to prove ourselves. We have to rectify our mistakes and move on.”

East Bengal’s Syrian star Mahmoud Al Amna is slated to return from injury while Armand Bazie has been released from the squad.

Meanwhile, the Arrows managed to grab a goalless stalemate in their last away game at Chennai City FC.

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With eleven points from thirteen games, the Luis Norton de Matos coached side return to the City of Joy, where they played out a creditable draw against former champions Mohun Bagan earlier this season.

“Ths is a place of football. I have very good memories from the time we played against Mohun Bagan. For us, we are going to try to be our best as usual. East Bengal is a team to challenge. A lot of concentration is needed to face them. It is going to be difficult but not an impossible mission,” Matos told the media.

“To play in Salt Lake Stadium would have been fantastic for the boys. But we have to play on artificial grass, it is difficult,” he added.

“I am sure they have developed, what people expected from them, they have done better than that. It is important for every club to use boys aged 16-17, only then Indian football will develop.”

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Although East Bengal are still in with a chance of winning their maiden I-League title, they have recently struggled to keep their campaign on track.

Jamil, who had coached Aizawl FC to a surprise title win last season, faces mounting pressure to deliver in East Bengal’s famed red and gold colours.

The Arrows on the other hand, face no such pressure. On Sunday, the babes of Indian football’s top division will be out to create another major upset.

–IANS

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