Kolkata, March 10 IANS | 5 months ago

East Bengal take on Mohammedan Sporting in a rearranged fixture of the I-League at the Salt Lake Stadium here Tuesday evening.


Despite the two being historical clubs, there have been only two meetings between them in the I-League era, largely due to Mohammedan's absence from the top flight and both encounters ended all square. The sides played out a draw earlier in the season also but that was a local league clash.

Due to their games in hand, East Bengal still have a realistic chance of challenging for the title but they are on a five-match winless streak in all competitions and have picked up just two points from their three fixtures after the league break.

Their last league game ended in a disappointing 1-1 stalemate with arch-rivals Mohun Bagan as they failed to secure maximum points despite taking the lead in the first half.

Coach Armando Colaco admitted after the game that winning the title will be very difficult now but they have had lot of time to prepare for this clash.

The red-and-gold brigade have already dropped 22 points after 14 matches and have their work cut out against a Mohammedan side that has drawn all three I-League Kolkata derbies this campaign.

But Mohammedan Sporting's I-League status is not safe and weekend's results saw them return to the bottom two. This is their game in hand over a couple of immediate rivals and thus Sanjoy Sen's side can't afford to drop points.

The black and whites could only manage a goalless draw with Mohun Bagan last Saturday and that result means Mohammedan have picked up just four points from their last five league outings.

"I think 26 points will be enough. However, we are not worried about relegation at all," Sen, whose team is currently on 17 points from as many games, said.

Sen would be hoping for the same confidence from his players but fatigue could be a factor as this will be their second game in three days and physically they gave a lot Saturday.

East Bengal will be looking to make the most of their freshness but this promises to be another closely-fought local derby with both sides desperate for three points.

(Posted on 10-03-2014)