Second Time's a charm: Diaz and Co. look to succeed in SC East Bengal's second Hero ISL campaign

Kolkata giants SC East Bengal would be aiming to go for gold this season, as the 101-year-old club have made several decisive acquisitions to their squad as well as to their staff ahead of the eighth edition of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL). The Red and Golds will have former Real Madrid Castilla gaffer Jose Manuel Diaz at the helm of affairs this season, replacing the outgoing Robbie Fowler.

SC East Bengal's Hero ISL 2021-22 squad

SC East Bengal: All the transfers

"I decided to come here because (SC) East Bengal is a big club in India. I had opportunities to continue (working) in Spain but I wanted a new challenge abroad. I decided to take up this opportunity given the history East Bengal has," revealed the head coach, stating his motivation behind exploring Indian shores.

Brushing aside the disappointments from last season, the club have also opted for a major squad overhaul going into the new season

Tournament History

The heritage club were debutants in the seventh edition of the Hero ISL. Liverpool FC legend Robbie Fowler was handed the responsibility to lead the outfit from Kolkata in their first-ever campaign in the Hero ISL. The Red and Gold Brigade had a rocky season, ending up in 9th position with 3 wins, 8 draws, and 9 losses.

They failed to register a win in their first seven games, while also going unbeaten for seven consecutive matches. The side was also involved in an exhilarating encounter against Odisha FC in their last fixture, with the scoreline reading 6-5 in Odisha’s favour.

Players to watch out

Arindam Bhattacharja

The custodian would be tasked with providing stability and leadership to a defensive line that looked extremely vulnerable last season. Arindam had a mesmerizing 2020-21 season with ATK Mohun Bagan, taking home the Golden Glove, as he kept 10 clean sheets, made 59 saves, and conceded just 19 goals in 23 games.

Daniel Chima Chukwu

The Nigerian marksman will be a physical presence in attack for the Red and Gold Brigade, and his experience of playing in the Norwegian and Polish leagues shall hold him in good stead in the Indian subcontinent. The 3-time Eliteserien winner will be looking to solve SC East Bengal’s woes up front.

Darren Sidoel

A product of the famed Ajax academy,  the 23-year-old has joined SC East Bengal, after stints in the Netherlands, England, Bulgaria, and most recently in Spain. Coach Jose Diaz has previously worked with the defensive midfielder in his time at Hércules CF, and the understanding between the two, coupled with Sidoel’s technical prowess would make him a pivotal member of the squad.

Franjo Prce

SC East Bengal conceded the third-highest goals in the 2020-21 season, letting in 33 goals from 20 games. The addition of 25-year-old Franjo Prce will be instrumental in ensuring that the Red and Gold Brigade perform better defensively in the upcoming campaign. The center-back has been a part of Italian clubs, SS Lazio and Brescia, in the past, and has also featured for the Croatian national youth teams.

Battle to watch

The biggest game for SC East Bengal in the upcoming season would be against their city rivals ATK Mohun Bagan. Termed the ‘Kolkata Derby’, the rivalry between the two clubs is one of the most renowned in Asia, with a century-long history, passionate supporters, and high-stakes encounters.

The Mariners got the better of SC East Bengal the two times they faced off against each other in the previous season, winning 2-0 and 3-1, respectively. Jose Diaz, who is no stranger to intense derbies himself, having been an integral part of the Real Madrid set up in the past, will be looking to turn the tide in favour of the Red and Gold Brigade this season.

Fixtures

Date

Fixture

Venue

21-11-2021

SC East Bengal v/s Jamshedpur FC

Tilak Maidan Stadium

27-11-2021

SC East Bengal v/s ATK Mohun Bagan

Tilak Maidan Stadium

30-11-2021

Odisha FC v/s SC East Bengal

Tilak Maidan Stadium

3-12-2021

Chennaiyin FC v/s SC East Bengal

Tilak Maidan Stadium

7-12-2021

SC East Bengal v/s FC Goa

Tilak Maidan Stadium

12-12-2021

SC East Bengal v/s Kerala Blasters FC

Tilak Maidan Stadium

17-12-2021

Northeast United FC v/s SC East Bengal

PJN Stadium, Fatorda

23-12-2021

Hyderabad FC v/s SC East Bengal

Athletic Stadium, Bambolim

04-01-2022

Bengaluru FC v/s SC East Bengal

Athletic Stadium, Bambolim

07-01-2022

SC East Bengal v/s Mumbai City FC

Tilak Maidan Stadium

Squad

Goalkeepers: Arindam Bhattacharja, Sankar Roy, Suvam Sen

Defenders: Daniel Gomes, Joyner Lourenco, Raju Gaikwad, Adil Khan, Hira Mondal, Ankit Mukherjee, Goutam Singh, Tomislav Mrcela, Franjo Prce, Sarineo Fernandes, Akashdeep Singh

Midfielders: Jackichand Singh, Sourav Das, Angousana Wahengbam, Amarjit Singh Kiyam, Md Rafique, Lalrinliana Hnamte, Bikash Jairu, Amir Dervisevic, Darren Sidoel, Romeo Fernandes, Songpu Singsit, Loken Metei

Forwards: Balwant Singh, Thongkhosiem Haokip, Naorem Mahesh, Siddhant Shirodkar, Daniel Chima Chukwu, Antonio Perosevic, Subha Ghosh

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