Hero ISL 2022-23, East Bengal FC preview: With renewed hope, Red and Golds aim to defy the odds

The last two Hero Indian Super League (ISL) seasons have not gone according to plan for East Bengal FC. The Kolkata-based side finished ninth in their inaugural Hero ISL season during the 2020-21 edition, and while there was a bit more optimism surrounding the camp the following season, the Red & Golds had a campaign to forget, finishing bottom of the table.

Now, they go again as East Bengal FC, after some wholesome changes to their squad and with a new face at the helm, who is no stranger to Indian football. The arrival of Stephen Constantine, former Indian men’s national team head coach, someone who had a good track record with the Blue Tigers, seems like a shrewd move given his understanding and experience of Indian players and how he made them fit into his system.

Add to that the return of their passionate fans after two seasons in the bio-bubble, this could finally be the year of reckoning for East Bengal FC. 

Season

Outcome

2020-21

9th place

2021-22

11th place

Team Composition and Transfer Dealings:

East Bengal FC have completely overhauled their squad for the upcoming season under head coach Stephen Constantine, bringing in faces who are no unknown commodities in Indian football.

Overall, they look like a balanced unit with a good blend of youth and experience. Although they have let go of Antonio Perosevic, last season’s leading team goalscorer; in Cleiton Silva and VP Suhair, they have accumulated two quality forwards.

Arindam Bhattacharja, Hira Mondal, and Lalrinliana Hnamte are among the few notable Indian players who have made departures, but there is just enough quality and strength in depth when it comes to their Indian contingent this season. 

Transfers:

INs: Pawan Kumar, Naveen Kumar, Mohamad Rakip, Sarthak Golui, Souvik Chakrabarti, Mobashir Rahman, Lalchungnunga, Jerry Lalrinzuala, Aniket Jadhav, VP Suhair, Himanshu Jangra, Jordan O’Doherty, Alex Lima, Cleiton Silva, Eliandro, Ivan Gonzalez, Charalambos Kyriakou.

OUTs: Sarineo Fernandes,          Lalrinliana Hnamte, Sourav Das, Mohammed Rafique, Sankar Roy, Rahul Kumar Paswan, Loken Meitei, Arindam Bhattacharja, Songpu Singsit, Fran Sota, Hira Mondal, Franjo Prce, Siddhant Shirodkar, Darren Sidoel, Antonio Perosevic, Balwant Singh, Romeo Fernandes, Bikash Jairu, Joyner Lourenco, Raju Gaikwad, Saikhom Goutam Singh, Suvam Sen.

To see the full squad of East Bengal FC, click here

Experts take:

Darren Caldeira on East Bengal FC’s squad:

The East Bengal FC squad is a lot stronger than last season. They've had a good amount of time training together as a team, something that was missing in the last two seasons. And have managed to get in a couple of tried and tested foreigners who know the league well, and domestic players with potential and quality. There's more balance in this side and that's key to having a good season. With Stephen Constantine's discipline and defensive organisation, if they can manage to keep it tight at the back, there's enough quality up front to get the goals.

Darren Caldeira on East Bengal FC’s transfer activity:

East Bengal FC have made some clever signings in the summer. The biggest one being Cleiton Silva. Had two good seasons with BFC and he's somebody who knows how to find the back of the net. Not just goals,but his link up play will be vital. Ivan Gonzalez and Alex Lima will further strengthen the spine in the team. Charalambos Kyriakou is someone who can play multiple positions in the backline which is always a bonus.

Jordan O'Doherty and Eliandro add further quality in the final third. But, it's the domestic players I'm excited about. Kamaljit Singh in goal with his experience and somebody who was their best player in the recent Durand Cup is a very good signing. Jerry Lalrinzuala, Mohamad Rakip, Sarthak Golui, Pritam Singh and Lalchungnunga in defence add solidity at the back.

Add to that Souvik Chakrabarti and Mobashir Rahman in the middle of the park. Souvik is one of the most consistent players in the Hero ISL and his experience will be key. Aniket Jadhav and Himanshu Jangra, two players who will provide pace on the wings. Tuhin Das is another very good signing by East Bengal FC. Great left foot, intelligent player and can whip in those crosses. Up front Suhair adds more quality and can make the difference in games. Sumeet Passi, who has played under Constantine for the national team, brings in more experience.

Darren Caldeira’s East Bengal FC players to watch out for this season: Lalchungnunga, Tuhin Das, Aniket Jadhav, Cleiton Silva.

Fixtures:

East Bengal FC will feature in the opening game of a Hero ISL season for the first time as they go up against Kerala Blasters FC in the opener of the upcoming season. It’s a fixture that can be daunting for most teams, but anything more than a draw could provide them some much-needed confidence for the games ahead.

The Red & Golds final league game also promises to be a blockbuster clash as they face rivals ATK Mohun Bagan in the final Kolkata Derby of the Hero ISL 2022-23 campaign. 

For full fixtures of East Bengal FC, click here.

Darren Caldeira’s verdict: Expect East Bengal FC to definitely have a better season than the last two and push for a top six spot.

 

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