I-League, Round 5: East Bengal FC vs Bengaluru FC - Preview
East Bengal returned to winning ways against newcomers DSK Shivajians in Round 4.
Kolkata: East Bengal will have a chance to climb to the top spot when they face current leaders Bengaluru FC in a round five clash of the I-League football at the Vidyasagar Krirangan at Barasat on Saturday
With the former champions Bengaluru FC's three-match winning run halted with a 0-2 defeat in Mumbai, East Bengal, who are separated from the leaders by just one point, will have a golden opportunity to go atop the table.
East Bengal returned to winning ways against newcomers DSK Shivajians but they were not convincing enough in their 1-0 win in the last round.
Their South Korean star forward Do Dong Hyun still struggled to get back into his elements as they relied heavily on the seasoned Nigerian pro Ranty Martins to put them ahead.
Ranti is once again expected to be in the thick of the things along with Sikkim youngster Bikash Jairu who has impressed one and all with his clinical passing skills from the left-flank.
There are also a few injury concerns for East Bengal coach Biswajit Bhattacharya with Robert Lalthlamuana, Soumik Dey and Harmanjot Singh Khabra doubtful for the top of the table clash tomorrow.
However, their attacking midfielder Cavin Lobo is fit and will be available for selection while Dempo recruit Narayan Das may come in place of Dey.
Oozing confidence ahead of the crucial fixture, Bhattacharya said: "We saw their loss to Mumbai they have exposed the chinks in their defence and we're confident of bagging three points."
"I think it's going to be a very crucial match for us as we cannot afford to lose points as it will push us back in the table. A win against Bengaluru FC will give a big boost to our title aspiration."
The Blues will bank on their forward duo of C K Vineeth and Kim Sing Yong and it remains to be seen how Bello Rasaq helm the East Bengal defence together.
As for the last season's runners-up Bengaluru, their captain Sunil Chhetri looked tired and had to be substituted after the break against Mumbai FC.
Bengaluru's defence in John Johnson and Curtis Osano too earned criticism in their defeat to Mumbai and the Ashley Westwood side will be under pressure to live up to their reputation.