East Bengal FC’s hopes of qualifying for the semi-finals of the Hero Super Cup have too many ifs and buts as they face Hero I-League team Aizawl FC in a Group B clash at the Payyanad stadium in Manjeri, on Monday, April 17.

The Kolkata giants need to win by a big margin against the former Hero I-League champions and hope the clash between Hyderabad FC and Odisha FC ends in a stalemate in the other match of the group. The current campaign provides the Red and Golds with the opportunity to win their only silverware.

The winners of the Hero Super Cup will compete in the AFC Cup, a competition in which East Bengal reached the semi-finals around a decade ago.

East Bengal have faltered time and again in this competition, as they squandered leads in both of their previous matches only to finish with two draws. East Bengal will eagerly wait to know the result of the other match between Hyderabad FC and Odisha FC since it will define the result they need in the crucial outing.

East Bengal Head Coach Stephen Constantine would heavily rely on the services of their two most consistent performers, Naorem Mahesh Singh and Cleiton Silva, to deliver the goods in the make-or-break encounter.

The eye-catching performance of Naorem Mahesh this season helped him break into the Indian senior men’s National Team in the Hero Tri-Nation tournament. On the other hand, Brazilian forward Cleiton Silva finished the Hero Indian Super League season with 12 goals from 20 matches.

Stephen Constantine highlighted the fact that East Bengal always play to win, irrespective of whom they are playing against. He felt there was no need to change their system in any way for tomorrow's match, as they have already reaped benefits from it. Stephen said: "The focus is not to repeat the individual errors that cost us dearly previously."
Aizawl FC will be looking to end the season on a high with a good result against East Bengal. They have always proved to be a tough nut to crack for the Red and Golds in the past.
The former Hero I-League champions have produced some of the best local talents in the past, who are all plying their trade in the top clubs of the country now. Competing against the ISL teams in this competition has provided a platform for their talented players to have invaluable experience and gain maximum exposure.

The match between East Bengal and Aizawl FC will be telecast live on the Sony Sports Network and will be streamed live on the FanCode app at 5 p.m. (IST).

Hyderabad FC, Odisha FC look to go all out for semi-final spot

In a must-win Hero Super Cup 2023 clash in Group B, Hyderabad FC face Odisha FC at the Payyanad Stadium in Manjeri, Kerala on Monday. The two sides currently have four points each and the winners will make the semi-finals.

Hyderabad FC had a good season in the Hero Indian Super League, where they finished in the second position with 13 wins in 20 matches. The Hyderabad side had one of the meanest defences in the entire league, as they conceded the least number of goals (16).

While expressing his opinion on whether the league standings during the 2022-23 season will determine the team’s confidence, Hyderabad FC head coach Manolo Marquez said: “I don’t think so. The Super Cup and the ISL are two completely different competitions. Sreenidi (Deccan) beat Kerala Blasters, but drew with Bengaluru FC. East Bengal FC drew against teams that finished higher than them in the league table. So I have no doubt that Odisha will be tough opponents for us in this game.”

In addition, the Spaniard also shed light on his side’s preparations ahead of the crucial tie. “We had just three days to prepare for this game so there is not much that changes. It is similar to the bubble when we have very little time for recovery and we have to be ready again,” he explained.

On the contrary, Odisha FC delivered an underwhelming campaign where they finished sixth in the league table with nine wins. Moreover, they conceded twice as many goals as their counterparts from Hyderabad. Yet, their Hero Super Cup campaign so far has been quite impressive. In two games, Clifford Miranda’s men have conceded just once. Given their current standings in the group, they can make the last four with a draw, provided East Bengal defeated Aizawl FC by a margin of fewer than three goals.

When asked if that defensive record will help them during the clash against Hyderabad, Miranda stated, “It does help to have not conceded and kept a clean sheet. But there are other factors like the way we attack, the feelings of the players and how they are in that moment, which will give us confidence in what we are doing.”

The two sides faced each other during the Hero ISL season and recorded a win and a loss each. In their last meeting at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar, the Juggernauts registered a 3-1 win. Speaking about whether that result will give his side confidence, Miranda added, “What happened in Bhubaneswar is completely irrelevant. This is a different game altogether and both teams will have an equal chance of winning.”

He concluded by saying, “I hope we come out as the better side.”

The match between Hyderabad FC and Odisha FC will be telecast live on the Sony Sports Network and will be streamed live on the FanCode app at 8:30 p.m. (IST).