Kolkata: Smarting from back-to-back defeats against Chennai City FC and Aizawl FC, under-fire East Bengal would be desperate to get back to winning ways when they take on defending champions Minerva Punjab FC in an I-League encounter here at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan on Tuesday.
East Bengal, now languishing eighth on the points table with six points from four games, kicked-off their league campaign with two wins on the road at Imphal and Shillong.
But surprise league leaders Chennai City FC beat them at home followed by Aizawl FC who, at home, came back from a goal down to scrape past the red and gold brigade 3-2.
On the eve of the crunch tie, East Bengal’s Spanish coach Alejandro Menendez remained bullish, saying his side have played well despite the poor results.
“The team is playing well I think. We lost our last two matches but now our priority is to win tomorrow against Minerva Punjab.
“Sometimes there are longer breaks and sometimes the breaks are short. Not sure if this is good for the team or not. We got some time to prepare the team. We are building the team for future,” he said at the pre-match press conference.
On their rivals, coach Menendez said, “Minerva is a good team. They are difficult to play and defend against them. But we are playing at home we have to win. We have to play in our own style and win the game.”
East Bengal have been porous at the back and have utilized fringe players in midfield such as Kamalpreet Singh and Lalrindika Ralte. Menendez said he is not worried about the defence or midfield although admitted that there is some scope for improvement.
“We are trying to correct our game overall by watching the previous matches but not particularly focusing on defence and midfield.
“It is always better for us to play in front of our home crowd. No pressure at all. The team has to do well. It is a long league. We have to try to win the home match tomorrow,” he concluded. Menendez had rotated the goalkeepers with Ubaid CK playing ahead of Rakshit Dagar.
But the former Minerva custodian Dagar is likely to come back in the starting lineup. Coming to Minerva, they were off to a poor start to their title-defence this season having collected just a point from their first two fixtures.
But coming to this game on the back of a 1-0 win over Indian Arrows, they will fancy their chances. They are currently at the sixth position on the league table with eight points from six matches.
The Sukhdev Singh transfer saga earlier this season has certainly spiked the tension between the two sides. The Kolkata club had received a transfer ban over their approach to sign Sukhdev Singh.