THERE IS STILL HOPE! East Bengal are down but not out of it yet. The title race is open for the three clubs namely Aizawl FC, Mohun Bagan and East Bengal. But for East Bengal, their fate is in the hands of other results that must work in their favour.
DSK Shivajians have no pressure of being in the either of the battles i.e. the title and the relegation battle. Relegation is not a worry, as Shivajians being a corporate entry, is exempt from relegation and being in the eight position in the table is far from the title hopes.
The pressure on East Bengal is much more as they aim to lay hands on the coveted trophy after 14 long years. East Bengal had a dream start when during the mid-season when they led the points table and seemed to knock down every opposition in their best form. But sadly for the club, the form did not last long and slowly the lead started diminishing. Double trouble for the club came when they lost the recent Kolkata derby to old foe Mohun Bagan. That loss was crucial in the title ambition as well.
DSK Shivajians, sitting in the eight position with 14 points, have been a team of youth lead by a few foreign and some experienced players. The energy of the team is fantastic and have a never-say-die attitude. With a short passing game and a lot of pace, this team has the quality to create a number of chances and can strike quickly on the counter.
Shivajians youth lack in clinical finishing upfront and that has been the sole reason that they have drawn or even lost a few games by small margin goal difference. East Bengal, though they are fragile at the moment, still possess a threat to run over Shivajians. In such a high pressure game, some physicality is expected and DSK must use this as a platform to learn to play under difficult situations. Also, with stakes high for East Bengal, DSK might not get too many chances in front of goal and it is imperative that they do not miss out to convert those little opportunities into goals.
East Bengal have been criticised for the team selections this season. Even after having the likes of the experienced Jackichand and Robin Singh along with the youth like Romeo in the team, they have hardly seen the field for a major part this season. Partly, the reason could be the star studded players like Wedson, Plaza, Bukenya and the late addition of Payne in the team becoming the first preferences.
The Red and Golds have plenty of distractions off the field as well arising due the poor results. Only yesterday, there was a scuffle between the fans and the team players. After the derby, Morgan had unpleasant things to say about the team and the management. All these really affect the morale of a team that needs to get its act together to keep focus on the next game.
It is a mental test for the East Bengal team to keep aside the off field incidents and shake off the poor run to get three points and hope Aizawl and Mohun Bagan drop points today (Saturday).
For Shivajians, it is an opportunity to face a tight situation whenever they come to this stage down the years. They do not have anything to lose but if they can score against a highly talented team who themselves are under a pressure to win, it will be a great learning for the team.
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