Vasco (Goa): SC East Bengal being in contention for a playoff spot in the 2020-21 Indian Super League (ISL) seemed improbable in the first half of the season but they are now just one win away from getting into the top four.
However, they face an uphill struggle in getting that win as they face table-toppers Mumbai City on Friday at the Tilak Maidan Stadium.
East Bengal have turned around their fortunes in remarkable fashion and are currently on a seven-game unbeaten run. However, MCFC will present a much tougher challenge than the ones they encountered in the last match.
While the arrival of Bright Enobakhare has given them a trump card in attack, SCEB do have defensive issues. No team has conceded as many goals as them in the second half (13) and only one has conceded more in the last fifteen minutes of the match (5). They will, however, be buoyed by the form that goalkeeper Debjit Majumder has been displaying.
“Mumbai are a good side and they have been doing really well,” said East Bengal assistant coach Renedy Singh. “But I feel we have to consider our own style, how we’ve played in the last seven matches. I think the boys have worked really hard. It is a process that we have to continue. We will work on our own side while giving respect to them.”
If East Bengal is prone to conceding in the second half, Sergio Lobera’s Mumbai specialise in scoring in the first. No team has netted more in the first half than the ten that Mumbai have managed. They are also now unbeaten in ten games. Three more and Mumbai will set a league record for the longest unbeaten streak in ISL history.
“The most important thing is to win a trophy,” said Lobera. “Obviously, it is a consequence to do a lot of things well. If during the way, we have very good numbers, lots of goals, lots of clean sheets and possession of the ball, you have more possibility of winning the trophy. But if I need to refuse these records in order to win a trophy, then I will prefer to win a trophy because that is the best record of all.”