The I-League kicks off today, with East Bengal taking on Aizawl FC in Barasat. But East Bengal will be without their star defenders, Ivan Bukenya and Wilis Plaza. Both these players haven’t had enough training in order to be match fit for the first game.
Coach James Morgan explained the situation. “They have had long flights with layovers at different countries. It’s not easy to judge on them just yet. Let’s see how they are next week and then take a call”
Arnab Mondal is a notable absentee for the East Bengal side, as he is nursing an injury. Gurwinder Singh and Anwar Ali will be playing as center backs for the first game. Subhashish Roy Chowdhury will be wearing the gloves for the side.
Captain of the side, Mehtab Hossain expressed a few concerns over playing on the artificial turf.
“It can be a problem. It’s not easy for the knee, ankle and groin. You need a lot of stamina”
“It’s not an artificial turf of such high standards so the leg gets stuck at times. You will see players injuring himself after two-three games,”
Mohammad Rafique will be playing as the lone striker, with Wedson occupying the hole behind him. Jackichand Singh and Abhinash Ruidas likely to be playing wide in a 4-2-3-1 formation.
Quotes from the coach
“We were unfortunate in one of those seasons that we could not win the I-League. There were things that happened to us that we could do nothing about”
“I know this could be the last I-League season. I know the expectations of the fans are immense here as it always is”
“I would do everything in my power to win the I-League this time, and it’s not the I-League it’s every game that we play. It’s going to be a great achievement for the team and me personally. It’s not something I lose sleep over. I do wake up and think about it,”