EAST BENGAL FC
YANGON UNITED FC
Yuba Bharati Krirangan, Kolkata
Kick-off- 6PM IST
Arguably the biggest match in the East Bengal football calendar is all set to embrace the football fans all over the country as the Kolkata giants gear up to face Myanmar’s Yangon United . After some stellar performances in the AFC Cup group stages, East Bengal will be looking to keep the juggernaut rolling. Whereas the side from Myanmar who could only finish second in their group after goal difference, will be looking to make their rich recent form count as they travel to Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan.
Team News and Tactics
The home team will be looking to overcome the disappointing and disheartening loss in the last I-League match against Shillong Lajong. The Lal-Holud brigade finished third after a topsy turvy season which saw the former champions stay near the top for eighty percent of the season. Trevor Morgan had his eyes glued on this important fixture as most of the foreigners in the squad were rested against Shillong, although striker Chidi and Barisic were bought on in Kalyani to save the blushes.
East Bengal is expected to go in with Abhijit Mondal under the bars with Uga Okpara leading the defence. Morgan will need to take a call on the other stopper with Raju, Gurwinder and now Arnab Mondal all available for selection. Gurwinder would be the most likely contender alongside the big Nigerian. Naoba Singh and Saumik would be deployed at the right back and left back positions respectively. Number eighteen Penn Orji will be an obvious choice starting from the middle alongside Mehtab Hossain, who is a bit doubtful for this match. Lalrindika Ralte, who has had an above average season with the former NFL champions, is likely to start on left flank with captain Sanju Pradhan on the right. Harmanjot Khabra is out for this one with an ankle injury. Top scorer Chidi Edeh and Australian Barisic are expected to start as an attacking pair.
Trevor Morgan’s side has only won two of their last five matches and with some crucial fixtures coming up, mainly this AFC Cup knock out match, plus two critical Kolkata football league matches (Prayag United, Mohun Bagan), it is time to make amends for the I-League disappointment.
The side from Myanmar does not flaunt rich history as their hosts, but the Lions from the South East Asia have gained momentum since their inception in 2009. The side has already bested their previous performance in the continental cup by reaching the pre-quarter finals this time. Yangon qualified from a very tricky group garnering five victories and a loss against New Radiant in Maldives. Bulgarian coach Kolev who joined the club last year has managed to produce some spectacular results. The Lions flaunts some really nippy and intelligent players, most of them now a part of the senior national team. East Bengal’s defenders are in for a tough game should their opponents adjust to the YBK conditions quickly.
Yangon United will be travelling with a full squad with no player out due to injury. Zaya Tun would start as custodian for the Myanmar side with Aussie Michael Cvetkovski marshalling the defence. The Lions would miss the services of Ivorian Jean Patrice as he is out of the squad due to yellow cards. Aung Thike would take up the other defender role alongside Htet. Myanmar international Kyi Lin would be the man to mark for Orji and co. and the midfielder is also renowned for his bursting runs and stringing moves from midfield. David Htan would cover the right flank with his brisk pace, could turn out to be vital for the visitors. The strike paring of Cezar Agusto and Adama Kone will spearhead the attack for the Lions. Ivorian Kone has scored in all the six matches of the AFC Cup so far and has been gelling well upfront with the new winter transfer recruit, Agusto. Both of them have been prolific in front of the goal with assists and goals.
Yangon United is currently placed fourth in the Myanmar league and has garnered four wins in their last five games. Kolev’s side will be raring to go in what builds up to be a mouth-watering clash in Kolkata – a quicker, more dangerous and one of the most influential sides from Myanmar, locking horns against most successful clubs in India, in front of their home crowd.
Players To Watch Out For
These games are usually decided by who runs and wins the midfield battle. With the team still to take a call on Mehtab’s impact on the match, Penn Orji’s performance would be very influential on the final result. Penn has been hitting the back of the net lately and would be the man to watch out for Cvetkovski and co.
The Ivory Coast striker has been in top form in the Cup till now, scoring mammoth 9 goals in six games. Along with the striking prowess of Brazilian Cezar Augusto upfront, Kone provides an eminent danger to the East Bengal defence. Kone being sturdy and tall is likely to be a threat from dead ball situations as well. It will be very interesting to see if the Ivorian is double marked by the Red-Gold centre backs.
East Bengal FC 2 – 1 Yangon United FC
There is a lot of speculation around Trevor Morgan leaving the club and his future is still obscure. Hence, these last few matches could very well turn out be his last matches in charge of the historic club. The players would be all geared up to put in their best and clinch a victory for the coach, especially after the I-league disappointment. The home support, the crowd, plus the artificial turf could unsettle the Myanmar side. Last time these two teams met, East bengal got the better of the Myanmar side with goals from Edmilson and Khabra, which is likely to provide an added confidence to the home side.