Indian Super League (ISL) outfit, East Bengal FC, will look to become the second team from the league to enter the semi-finals as they take on Gokulam Kerala FC in the second quarter-final of the Durand Cup at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata on Friday.

While on paper, the Red and Gold Brigade might possess a slight advantage due to their current form and home crowd support, the I-League side will prove to be a formidable challenge.

Placed in Group A, which was considered one of the toughest groups in the competition, Carles Cuadrat’s team demonstrated their determination and resilience to top their group. After a disappointing 2-2 draw against the Bangladesh Army in the opening fixture, the Red and Golds fought fiercely against arch-rivals Mohun Bagan Super Giant in the subsequent game. They then secured another 1-0 victory in the final group stage match against ISL’s newest entrant, Punjab FC.

The inclusion of Cleiton Silva and Jose Antonio Pardo has boosted the confidence of East Bengal FC. They now aim to sustain their unbeaten streak in the competition and secure a spot in the semi-finals for the first time since 2019.

The Malabarians, too, have shown their prowess by topping a group that included strong teams like Bengaluru FC and Kerala Blasters. Gokulam Kerala has consistently proven to be a challenging opponent for the Kolkata side, and they will be aiming to uphold that status on Friday.

Coach Cuadrat is fully aware of the magnitude of the task ahead. During the pre-match press conference, he stated, “The stakes are obviously higher in the knockouts, but I believe in taking one match at a time. We faced some strong opponents in the group stage, and doing well against them has boosted our confidence. Gokulam were the champions of their group, so a tough match awaits us at the VYBK. Our fans will surely fill the stadium with their Joy East Bengal chants.”

The winner of this clash will face NorthEast United FC in semi-final 1, on Tuesday.