EB face Minerva in a must-win clash
Kolkata: East Bengal will aim to return to winning ways in order to revive their title aspirations when they face leaders Minerva Punjab FC in a top of the table I- League fixture in Barasat on Tuesday.
Coming off from a derby debacle, a 0-2 loss to Mohun Bagan on January 21, East Bengal will look to improve their game by few notches as this promises to be one of the much- anticipated battles of this season.
That both the teams face again within a fortnight's time in the return leg would mean the result will determine both the teams fate.
As for the standings, the Punjab outfit are six points clear of East Bengal with one match in hand.
In pursuit of their maiden I-League title, East Bengal on the other hand have a lot of catching up to do
with 19 points from 11 matches as they cannot afford to lose from hereon.
The urgency and desperation in their mindset was evident when they snapped their contract with misfiring Willis Plaza, who headed to Mohammedan Sporting in the aftermath of the derby defeat.
In another development post the defeat, East Bengal have also roped in Mohun Bagan striker Ansumana Kromah as the Liberian is all set for a debut in the red and gold colours.
All eyes would be on their coach Khalid Jamil after having took full blame on himself of the derby loss.
"I'm responsible for the team's failure. Please don't blame the players or others. From recruiting overseas players to the disappointing results, I'm the one responsible for these things," Jamil had said after being thrashed in the derby.
On a four match winning run — all coming away after their loss at Aizawl — Minerva had also overcome off the field challenges when their owner Ranjit Bajaj had claimed their players were approached to "fix matches".
Their latest triumph was against second-placed Neroca FC in Manipur with Chencho Gyeltshen's double prevailing over the Manipuri outfit.
The Bhutanese left-winger will be a big threat as it remains to be seen how the likes of Gurwinder Singh and Eduardo live up to the challenge in the backline.
Kromah will have a point to prove after switching allegiance as he will partner Dudu Omagbemi up front looking to give early lead.
With a huge East Bengal fan following in Barasat in the northern outskirts of the city, the home side will hope to exploit the home advantage to the fullest. Match begins at 2 pm.