Kalyani, Jan 14 : East Bengal have now come back to their home after a long away spell as they are gearing up to host Gokulam Kerala FC in a must-win match for both the teams to stay alive in the title race.
Quess East Bengal, who suffered their first loss of the ongoing Hero I-League against Churchill Brothers FC Goa, will be looking to get back to winning ways. The Red and Golds are placed fifth in the table with eight points from five games and a win against Gokulam Kerala can assure them of the top three places at the end of the eighth round of matches.
Quess East Bengal, during the last season, did a double on Gokulam Kerala with 3-1 and 2-1 wins at home and away respectively which will prove to be a major boost for the home side going into the match.
Speaking before the match, Alejandro Menendez, Head Coach, East Bengal, said, "We need to be very strong in defence and be much focused. In attack, we will try to be combinative to create as many chances and hopefully convert them. We need to perform in a good way to play this game that is surely going to be tough considering Gokulam will have a similar outlook." Gokulam Kerala FC has had a rough patch in the last few matches and the results haven't really favoured the Kerala outfit. In spite of team Captain and playmaker, Marcus Joseph being in prime form the team has failed to put together a string of good results.
In addition, the Kerala outfit might be at a disadvantage with the suspension of defenders Haroon Amiri and Mohamed Irshad. The team will also be concerned over recovering goalkeeper Baskaran, who had to be taken off due to a head-on collision during the match against Chennai City FC.
Fernando Andres Santiago Varela, Head Coach, Gokulam Kerala FC said, "Quess East Bengal are always a strong opponent, with very good foreign and Indian players. We will do our best to win away from home." He also commented on the events in the last match and said, "Irshad and Amiri are experienced players but we will replace them with two players who are our assets for the future and they will do a good job." "With regard to the 'bad' luck, I think we are the team that most create scoring chances in the championship and we are not being effective enough. We must improve in this aspect and hopefully be as fast as possible."