Match 8 Preview: SC East Bengal all set to make Hero ISL debut with Kolkata derby
The first Kolkata derby in the history of the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) is ready to unfold as new entrants ATK Mohun Bagan and SC East Bengal lock horns at the Tilak Maidan Stadium in Vasco on Friday. ATK Mohun Bagan are coming into the game on the back of a 1-0 win over Kerala Blasters FC in what also was the season opener. SC East Bengal, on the other hand, will take the field for the first time. Of all 11 teams, they are the only one yet to feature in a contest.
Armed with a number of experienced Hero ISL campaigners, SC East Bengal have built a formidable squad for their debut campaign in Indian football’s biggest stage -- rich in both foreign and local talents. Led by former Liverpool striker Robbie Fowler, SC East Bengal have signed some experienced foreigners ahead of the season like Anthony Pilkington, Daniel Fox and Jacques Maghoma, and no doubt they add plenty of strength and depth to the squad.
SC East Bengal’s strike-force will be led by the returning Jeje Lalpekhlua as well as last season’s Hero ISL winner with ATK FC, Balwant Singh. Jeje will be integral to Fowler’s plans as he is the second highest Indian goal-scorer in league history, and has also won the coveted trophy twice with Chennaiyin FC. Having missed out on the entirety of last season with an injury, the ‘Mizo Sniper’ will be roaring to go -- no two ways about it.
Although this is just Fowler’s second club in his short coaching career, SC East Bengal fans can expect a lot from their new head coach whose experience as a player is just immense. Under Fowler, A-League club Brisbane Roar finished 4th in his only season with the club, and they conceded just 28 goals in 26 games.
The SC East Bengal attackers, however, will have their task cut out, given how compact ATK Mohun Bagan’s defence was against Kerala Blasters FC. Kerala had zero shots on target of their nine: five were off-target and four were blocked. Tiri, into his sixth Hero ISL season, made 21 clearances, while Sandesh Jhingan and Pritam Kotal made nine clearances each. The defence was also aided by Carl McHugh, and the Englishman attempted 11 tackles and five of these were successful.
In the attacking department again, Antonio Lopez Habas’ ATK Mohun Bagan boast players like Roy Krishna and David Williams. Against the Kochi giants, Fijian Krishna took four shots and scored the only goal of the match with his just one shot on target.
When all is said and done, there is very little to choose between the two teams on the basis of the squad strength as both boast a great many stars, however, the fact that SC East Bengal take the field for the first time in the Hero ISL might just put them under pressure a bit more. Not to mention the fact that their head coach is completely new to the league and its challenges. Habas, on the other hand, has already won two Hero ISL trophies as head coach.
SC East Bengal
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
ATK Mohun Bagan
Goalkeepers: Arindam Bhattacharja, Dheeraj Singh, Avilash Paul, Arsh Shaikh, Aryan Niraj Lamba
Defenders: Tiri, Pritam Kotal, Prabir Das, Sandesh Jhingan, Subhasish Bose, Sumit Rathi
Midfielders: Pronay Halder, Bradden Inman, Javier Hernandez, Edu Garcia, Carl McHugh, Glan Martins, Jayesh Rane, Michael Soosairaj, Boris Singh, Regin Michael, Sahil Sheikh, N Engson Singh
Forwards: David Williams, Roy Krishna, Manvir Singh, Md. Fardin Ali Molla
Live Broadcast Schedule:
Hero ISL 2020-21 Match 8: SC East Bengal vs ATK Mohun Bagan
Date: November 27 (Friday)
Time: 7:30 PM onwards
Channels: Star Sports Network
Streaming: Disney+ Hotstar and Jio TV