Kolkata: Smarting from their shock defeat against Pune FC at home, reigning champions and Federation Cup winners Bengaluru FC will face formidable East Bengal in the I-League football tournament at the Vivekananda Yuva Bharati Krirangan, here on Wednesday.
With one point from two matches, Bengaluru Football Club have slipped to 10th place in the 11-team table, while East Bengal occupy sixth place as both the teams would look for their first win of the 2014-15 I-League season.
East Bengal were held 1-1 by Sporting Clube de Goa in their previous match and the red and gold brigade would be keen to get full points ahead of their big match against bitter foes Mohun Bagan in the next round on February 11.
BFC coach Ashley Westwood drew flak for his failed move to keep captain Sunil Chhetri and Robin Singh out of the starting XI in their 1-3 loss in the previous round.
But against East Bengal, who had defeated Bengaluru FC in all the three prior meetings by identical margin of 2-0, the visitors may not afford to relax.
With their influential Liberian playmaker John Menyongar not there since their title winning campaign last season, BFC’s attack has looked dodgy but Westwood feels the replacement in Under-21 international Joshua Walker is much more effective.
“Walker has played in the Premier League, Scottish Premier League, Europa League, and also against Bayern Munich and captained England at the U-21 World Cup. So comparing Walker and Menyongar, I think Josh is better. We could’ve played a lot better in the (last) game,” the Englishman said.
Another vital cog in their attack Sean Rooney did not get enough support from Eugeneson Lyngdoh and Thoi Singh in the last match and it would be interesting to see how they fare on the artificial surface here.
East Bengal will have the leading I-League scorer Ranti Martins up front, while Arnab Mondal, Harmanjot Khabra, Mehtab Hossain and Milan Susak will be venturing in the rearguard action.
It will be interesting to see whether their coach Armando Colaco keeps his last season’s unbeaten record at the stadium intact.