I-L: East Bengal entertain Salgaocar
East Bengal will host table-toppers Salgaocar in a round eight clash of the Airtel I-League in Kalyani on Friday (October 31, 2013). The Kolkata giants are currently seven points behind Salgaocar in ninth place but have three games in hand. Both teams enjoyed 2-0 wins in round seven with East Bengal beating Bengaluru FC in Kalyani and Salgaocar getting the better of United SC in the same venue. The three points against Bengaluru ended East Bengal's four-game winless streak in Kalyani but they haven't won back-to-back matches in the I-League since February and will be wary of Salgaocar's consistency as the Goan club have picked 13 points from a possible 18. East Bengal though have the best goal-scoring ratio so far in the 2013-14 I-League with South Sudan striker James Moga bagging three in as many games. The red-and-gold brigade will be boosted by the return of Nigerian central defender Uga Okpara from suspension but the midfield duo of Reisangmi Vashum and Ryuji Sueoka remain unavailable due to injury. Despite the absence of first-team regulars like Okpara in the last match, East Bengal still managed to put up a good performance and end Bengaluru's unbeaten start. Their Brazilian head coach Marcos Falopa is now looking for some consistency. "Now that the AFC Cup is over, the I-League is our target. I am happy with the effort of the players so far and have complete faith in each of them," Falopa was quoted saying. This will be Salgaocar's fourth straight away game and coach Derrick Pereira will be satisfied with a return of six points from the previous three matches. He will be especially pleased with the fact that his team defeated United SC although top scorer Darryl Duffy failed to score for the first time in the I-League. Pereira will be hoping for a similar team performance but history is against Salgaocar in this fixture as they haven't won away at East Bengal in the I-League era. The Kolkata club also leads the overall head-to-head in the combined history of the NFL and I-League with 12 wins, 10 draws and 10 defeats in 32 meetings. Salgaocar would be determined to get that elusive away win over East Bengal in the I-League because any slip up could see them lose pole position at the end of this round. On other hand, Falopa's side need maximum points to move up the table.
(Posted on 31-10-2013)