I-League: Bharat FC confident of strong show ahead of East Bengal FC clash
Bharat FC will be looking to get a win under their belt as they take on East Bengal FC in a Hero I-League round 5 encounter at the Yuva Bharati Krirangan on Sunday. The game will be telecast live and will kick-off at 7 pm. Bharat FC are sitting at 11th place on the Hero I-League table with one point from three games played. East Bengal are fourth in the table with seven points from four matches.
Bharat FC underwent an intensive training session at the Yuva Bharati Krirangan on Saturday morning and head coach Stuart Watkiss said that he was confident of his team putting on a strong performance on Sunday. “The team has shown steady improvement. They are gelling really well as a unit, playing cohesive football and the statistics have shown us that we are gradually getting to where we want to be. I am confident that the lads are up for the battle tomorrow and will give a good account of themselves,” he said.
Bharat FC put on a spirited performance in their last match against defending champions Bengaluru FC but were unlucky to slip to a narrow 1-0 defeat. Bharat FC played some entertaining, attractive football and managed to harry the Bengaluru FC defense with concerted pressure and created multiple scoring opportunities in the first half. However, Watkiss, said that his side were unlucky as they could not summon their goal-scoring instincts but he was enthused
“The Bengaluru FC game was one that we should have finished off in the first half. We were purposeful, created some good opportunities and held our shape well. We need more of the same on Sunday against East Bengal. They are a very good side, play incisive football and we will need to be switched on against them if we have to take anything away from the game,” he said.
Watkiss has a fully fit squad from which to choose from. The head coach said that he was pretty happy with the display in the previous match and is expected to retain the same team. East Bengal on the other hand will be going into a busy week with the Kolkata derby against Mohun Bagan AC slated to be played on Tuesday. The Kolkata-giants slipped to a 3-1 defeat against Salgaocar SC in Goa last week in what was billed as a surprise result. East Bengal are expected to have defender Arnab Mondal fit and available for selection.
The match will also see a host of former East Bengal players turning out for Bharat FC. Syed Rahim Nabi, Mehrajuddin Wadoo, Tomba Singh and Subash Singh have all previously played for East Bengal.
Bharat FC will be playing on artificial turf for the first time and coach Watkiss brushed off speculation that the change in turf will hamper his side. “We have had two good training sessions on artificial turf before we travelled to Kolkata. We have trained on artificial grass here as well and I do not think it will make too much of a difference. The boys seem to have adjusted to the speed and feel of the pitch and playing on artificial grass will not bother us in any way,” he said.
The Lions are still looking for their first win and Watkiss said that three points against East Bengal FC would really send the Lions on their way. “We have played good, solid football but a win is something that is of primary importance to us. We have created chances, come close but we haven’t closed the deal yet. I am sure one win will give me a completely different side as far as the players’ morale is concerned,” he said.