Match 39 Preview: SC East Bengal hope to end win drought against two-time champions Chennaiyin

SC East Bengal and two-time champions Chennaiyin FC go up against each other at the Tilak Maidan Stadium on Saturday after a two-day Christmas break in the 2020-21 Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL).

SC East Bengal are one of three teams this season who are yet to taste victory. In their last match against Kerala Blasters FC, they looked all set to get their first three points of the season before Jeakson Singh broke their heart through a brilliant header in injury time. 

While SC East Bengal have shown improvement with each passing match in their debut season, in order to be considered a challenger for a top-four finish at the end of the league stage, they will have to improve in a big way and start notching up outright wins. 

Jacques Maghoma, who scored the first goals for the Kolkata-based club this season, Anthony Pilkington and Scott Neville have started to come into their own and head coach Robbie Fowler will hope they can inspire the entire bunch to produce match-winning performances going forward.

However, important Indian players like Eugeneson Lyngdoh, CK Vineeth, Jeje Lalpekhlua and Balwant Singh have had a disappointing season so far, and Fowler’s side -- with four losses and two draws till now -- have indeed borne the brunt of their being off-colour.  

“…The motivation is there. I have said it before we are not a million miles away. Okay, we have not won a game; we have lost one in (last) three games now. The tide is turning. Hopefully it will be sooner rather than later. Everyone here is 120% behind me in terms of what we are trying to achieve. …We are not after a quick fix here, we are after a steady ship that can go on and on and prolong itself for a long, long time, for a long journey,” Fowler said ahead of the game.  

Meanwhile, Chennaiyin FC are better placed than their rivals on the points table. Having won two, drawn two and lost two, the Marina Machans will feel better going into the match than SC East Bengal, however, it’s not the kind of start the two-time champions would be happy with. They beat Goa in their last game but they also missed so many opportunities. They won 2-1 but with better finishing up front they could have easily scored two or three goals more.

Good news for the Marina Machans however is that Rafael Crivellaro appears to be getting his flair back. His goal against Goa from a corner was just brilliant. However, Jakub Sylvestr needs to improve, the number of opportunities he has got to score off has been far bigger than the output from him so far. The same could be said about Lallianzuala Chhangte.

“There is always pressure. If you get two victories in a row you get very close to the top four. And two defeats will see you go down very quickly. Even yesterday [referring to the FC Goa-Jamshedpur FC game on Wednesday], it was a very up and down game. Everyone is looking to win games …It will be a tough game for us. They are a new team but they have adapted well. We have to concentrate very well and remain focussed,” Chennaiyin head coach Csaba Laszlo said ahead of the game.

Squads:

SC East Bengal

Goalkeepers: Debjit Majumder, Sankar Roy, Mirshad Michu, Rafique Ali

Defenders: Samad Mallick, Abhishek Ambekar, Daniel Fox, Scott Neville, Narayan Das, Mohamed 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

Chennaiyin FC

Goalkeepers: Revanth BY, Vishal Kaith, Karanjit Singh, Samik Mitra

Defenders: Lalchhuanmawia Fanai, Enes Sipovic, Reagan Singh, Eli Sabia, Jerry Lalrinzuala, Remi, Balaji Ganesan, Aqib Nawab, Deepak Tangri

Midfielders: Fatkhulo Fatkhuloev, Thoi Singh, Anirudh Thapa, Memo Moura, Lallianzuala Chhangte, Rafael Crivellaro, Abhijit Sarkar, Pandiyan Sinivasan, Germanpreet Singh, Dhanpal Ganesh, Edwin Vanspaul

Forwards: Jakub Sylvestr, Aman Chetri, Rahim Ali, Esmael Goncalves

Live Broadcast Schedule:

Hero ISL 2020-21 Match 39: SC East Bengal vs Chennaiyin FC

Date: December 26 (Saturday)

Time: 7:30 PM onwards

Channels: Star Sports Network

Streaming: Disney+ Hotstar and Jio TV

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