East Bengal take on laggards Mumbai FC in final game
Their title-hopes already up in smoke, Kolkata's East Bengal take on I-League laggards Mumbai FC with the chance of finishing third if they win or even draw the last game at the Cooperage ground here on Saturday.
A string of four straight defeats has dented the glamour outfit's title hopes, but the convincing 3-1 win at home against Minerva Punjab FC in their last game has rekindled East Bengal's hopes of finishing in the top three.
East Bengal's task of winning the game won't be easy as MFC, although winless since two victories at the beginning of the league, have been unbeaten at home this season after losing 0-1 to table toppers Aizawl FC on January 22.
Subsequently, MFC had held all rivals to draws in their home ground.
Even the last home game of MFC, against Shillong Lajong FC on Sunday last, ended in a 1-1 draw. While MFC have defended stoutly at home against all comers, they have not been able to pierce the rivals' defence and finally bulged the net against Shillong after featuring in five goalless draws. The visitors would be pinning their hopes on top goal poachers such as strikers Scot Darryl Duffy (7 goals) and Indian international Jeje Lalpekhlua (5) to breach the rock-solid MFC defense, including goalie Laxmikant Kattimani.
East Bengal coach Ranjan Chaudhary said the game will enable the team to gear up for the upcoming Federation Cup in Cuttack.
"This is our last match and we will use it as preparation for the Federation Cup. Away matches are always tough, but we will fight it out. We have come with the best choice of 18 players who are all fit," he said.
MFC, on the other hand, would be keen to score their first win after more than three months and avoid a last-place finish.