Kingfisher East Bengal FC
Jalan Besar Stadium, Singapore
Kick-off -5:15 PM IST
Four time Singapore club champions, Tampines Rovers FC gear up to face East Bengal in their third group H encounter at the Jalan Besar Stadium. With the home team still looking for their maiden triumph in this edition of the continental championship and East Bengal somewhat struggling to bag three points in their recent games, this could brew into a tasty affair in Singapore as both the teams look to strengthen their hold in the table.
Tampines Rovers FC
The current S-League champions have got off to a flying start in their domestic league, mustering maximum points from their opening six games. Friday night was no different as Home United was beaten at home by the Stags. Coach Nenad Bacina would be hoping that his side replicates the league form in the AFC match as they welcome East Bengal. Rovers are currently slotted in the third place in the table with one draw and a first round loss at home to Vietnamese side Sai Gon Xuan. A win for the Singaporean side could effectively swap both the teams’ position in the table.
Croat custodian and veteran Sasa Dreven is once again expected to start under the bar for the south East Asians. Coach Nenad would have to play his cards right keeping in mind the foreign player rule for AFC games. Japanese stopper Kunihiro Yamashita is more than expected to start this match, but will he be partnered by Kaneko at the back is still an open question. Left back Bin Taha would claim his position along with Anaz Hadee on the right flank. As many as five midfielders are expected to pack the middle of the park for the hosts on Wednesday with captain Mustafic leading the way. The strike force will be marshaled by the ever reliable Argentine hit man- Martin Wagner and Duric. Young prodigy Khairul could also start the match, or could provide the flexibility to the team from bench.
Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Sasa(GK), Yamashita, Anaaz, Bin Taha, Mukhtar, Sulaiman, Imran, Mustafic (C), Hadzibulic, Duric, Wagner.
East Bengal FC
The Lal-Holud brigade hailing has not won a match in their last five games from open play. It has been a series of draws for Trevor Morgan’s side since their win over Prayag United in the IFA shield in March. Kolkata giants are now positioned at the second place in the table with the goal difference separating them from Sai Gon Xuan. East Bengal now travel to Singapore to lock horns against Tampines Rovers in red hot form.
Gurpreet Singh Sandhu has been axed from the squad after the post-match debacle in the last match involving the supporters. Abhijit Mondal will be an obvious replacement for the Punjab lad in the goal and he would be keen to prove a point in this match. Uga Okpara will start alongside Gurwinder Singh as stoppers with Saumik Dey on the left flank. It will be interesting to see where Harmanjot Khabra slotted in this crucial match. Morgan has deployed Khabra at right back in the AFC matches, but in the last match against Air India, Khabra came on as a stopper.
Lalrindika’s pace could also come in handy in this away game on the left flank. Midfield would be once again run by Mehtab and Penn, with captain Sanju Pradhan and Dika Ralte on the flanks. Ishfaq Ahmed has travelled with the squad and could turn out to be a more than useful substitute. Nigerian Chidi Edeh and Aussie Barisic would once again lead the attack for the former national champions. Trevor Morgan’s side was guilty of missing a lot of chances against Air India in the I-league match which eventually cost them two vital points in the title race. Morgan would be expecting his side to turn up with their ‘A’ game in order to stay on course for further qualification.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Abhijit Mondal(GK); Khabra, Gurwinder, Uga, Soumik; Sanju, Mehtab, Penn, Dika, Chidi, Borisic.
Players To Watch Out For:
Aleksander Duric (Tampines Rovers FC)
Since joining the club in 2010, Duric has been more than prolific for the Singapore side, scoring no less than 58 goals so far for them. The Serbian born Singapore national player would be the man to watch out for Uga and co. at the back as he will try to add to his season’s tally.
Uga Okpara (East Bengal FC)
The sturdy center back would be the key man in Trevor Morgan’s plan to bag any points from this fixture. East Bengal has been guilty of leaking in easy goals lately and giving away easy goals. The need of the hour for Okpara is to demonstrate his leading skills at the back and garner a gritty performance from the back four.
Tampines Rovers 2- 1 East Bengal FC
The stags are on a roll at the moment and with their captain clinching the winning goal last time against arch rivals, the Nenad Bacina mentored side would be raring to go and bag their first three points. East Bengal would pop in with a surprise performance, but the probability of that is very bleak.