Season Preview: SC East Bengal ready to make waves on debut
SC East Bengal finally make their debut in the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) and stakes could not be higher for the Kolkata giants, who will look to cement themselves as one of the league powerhouses. The club have handed the reins over to English head coach Robbie Fowler, and the former Liverpool striker of great renown has built a formidable squad, with a lot of emphasis on experience.
Some of the most recognizable names among the Indian players in the SC East Bengal team are Jeje Lalpekhlua, Eugeneson Lyngdoh, Balwant Singh, Narayan Das and Bikash Jairu, all with good Hero ISL experience. Fowler did not have as much time as other clubs to assemble his team but with the above-mentioned names around, he will feel confident going into this campaign.
The biggest name from the lot is undoubtedly Jeje. Having spent five seasons with Chennaiyin FC, before missing the entirety of last season due to injury, the two-time Hero ISL champion and the league’s second highest Indian goal-scorer (23) will be key to SC East Bengal’s performance. The stint also gives him a big opportunity to impress Indian national team manager Igor Stimac.
Fowler’s foreign players also come in with a whole lot of experience, though it will be the first time they will be plying their trade in an Indian league. Players such as Anthony Pilkington, Daniel Fox and Jacques Maghoma will be the ones to watch out for. All three have solid experience of playing in the English football leagues, and SC East Bengal’s campaign is expected to revolve around them.
Aaron-Amadi Holloway is another from that system, which means four out of six foreigners in the team come from a similar playing background -- a good thing for SC East Bengal as it will be easier for them to work together. Meanwhile, defender Scott Neville has worked with Fowler during his time in the A-League with Brisbane Roar as did Holloway. Last but not least, German midfielder Matti Steinmann has played against Fowler’s Brisbane Roar in Wellington Phoenix colours. So Fowler is connected with each of them in one way or the other.
This is Fowler’s second full-time job as a head coach and SC East Bengal fans are looking to him to make a strong statement in their debut season. There are at least two Kolkata Derbies in the offing too, and besides a place in the play-offs, Fowler also will look to come out on top in those encounters.
Goalkeepers: Debjit Majumder, Sankar Roy, Mirshad Michu, Rafique Ali
Defenders: Samad Mallick, Abhishek Ambekar, Daniel Fox, Scott Neville, Narayan Das, Mohamad Irshad, Gurtej Singh, N Rohen Singh, Lalramchullova, Rana Gharami, Anil Chawan
Midfielders: Sehnaj Singh, Matti Steinmann, Jacques Maghoma, Eugeneson Lyngdoh, Wahengbam Luwang, Bikash Jairu, Yumnam Singh, Surchandra Singh, Loken Meitei, Mohammed Rafique, Aaron Amadi-Holloway, Anthony Pilkington, Milan Singh, Haobam Singh
Forwards: Balwant Singh, Jeje Lalpekhlua, CK Vineeth, Girik Khosla, Harmanpreet Singh
vs ATK Mohun Bagan – November 27
vs Mumbai City FC – December 1
vs NorthEast United FC – December 5
vs Jamshedpur FC – December 10
vs Hyderabad FC – December 15
vs Kerala Blasters FC – December 20
vs Chennaiyin FC – December 26
vs Odisha FC – January 3
vs FC Goa – January 6
vs Bengaluru FC – January 9
*Fixture list for SC East Bengal announced as of now