I-League giants East Bengal are all set to face Indian Super League (ISL) FC Goa in the first semifinal match of the Super Cup 2018 on April 16th at the Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar.
Having won the Calcutta Football League (CFL) title, East Bengal were serious about their ambition in the Super Cup. The club appointed Subhash Bhowmick as the technical director as they looked to add to the CFL ttle.
East Bengal's style of play has completely changed as they keep the ball on the ground rather than playing it in the air. It was pretty evident in their round of 16 match against Mumbai City FC.
In the quarterfinal, East Bengal met I-League rivals Aizawl FC who has become a bogey team for the Kolkata giants in the last few seasons. Earlier this season, the teams met twice in the I-League and both ended in a draw.
It took the Red and Golds 95 minutes and a penalty to beat a fatigued Aizawl in the quarterfinal and book their place in the final four.
Now they are up against a depleted FC Goa side who will take the field without five regular starting XI players. The Goans have come to the Super Cup without chief coach Sergio Lobera and star midfielder Manuel Lanzarote.
Their quarterfinal clash against Jamshedpur FC witnessed three key players, Sergio Juste, Brandon Fernandes and Bruno Pinheiro sent off. Midfielder Hugo Boumous and Pronay Halder will also miss the semi-final clash due to two yellow cards.
This is an ideal scenario for Khalid Jamil and Subhas Bhowmick’s side to capitalise and notch a win against FC Goa and reach the final. It must be noted East Bengal have failed to win the I-League/NFL in the last 15 years and have not won a national competition since 2012. They were favourites to win the league this season as well but once again, after the 16th round, they bottled it.
With in-form players like Mahmoud Al Amna, Katsumi Yusa and Khalid Aucho in midfield, East Bengal look much stronger on paper. If Dudu Omagbemi finds his goal scoring boots before the semis, there is absolutely no reason why they cannot beat the ISL giants.
It is now or never for the giants of Indian football to make their mark in the national scenario. Super Cup triumph is a necessity for East Bengal as they can ill-afford to not winning the title.