Durand Cup 2019, East Bengal 2-0 Army Red: 5 Talking Points
After an eventful first half, East Bengal broke the deadlock in the 85th minute through a fine free-kick from Jaime Santos Colado. They got the second six minutes later when Bidyasagar Singh poked the ball calmly into the net after receiving an inch-perfect pass from Samad Ali Mullick.
East Bengal will play Jamshedpur FC on August 6.
Let’s look at the talking points of the game:
#5 East Bengal leaves it late
Army Red, by far, are the weakest team in the Group A. On that note, East Bengal couldn’t have asked for more. An easy opponent to start the new season and they got what they wanted.
However, football is played on the field, not on paper. And the Army men proved the old phrase true once again. They were technically inferior to their counterparts. But they were physically more fit and had the urge to make their presence felt.
East Bengal tried everything that they could do. They maintained the possession, took the midfield in their control, attacked on every opportunity.
But the Army men were never willing to surrender. At one point in time, it looked like they were looking for an upset. It was East Bengal’s point to lose.
Jaime Santos rescued the team yet again. In the 82nd minute, his swerving free-kick gave East Bengal the much-needed lead and Bidyasagar Singh’s late strike confirmed all the three points for the Red and Golds.
#4 Condition of the outfield leave players baffled
Since last season, East Bengal coach Alejandro Menendez has never conducted a single practice session in the club home ground. And Saturday’s performance proved why he was right in his decision.
Not only the home players, but the away team were also dissatisfied with the condition of the outfield. It was slow, rough and needed extra effort to control the ball. As a result, the players were pulling their muscle time and again.
In the second half, at least two Army players pulled their hamstring and needed to be stretchered off. Even some East Bengal players had discomfort in running. Menendez also expressed his disappointment at the post-match press conference.
East Bengal will have to play one more match in the Durand Cup and all their matches except the two Derbies at their home ground.
#3 Haokip impresses, but Abhijit disappoints
After switching allegiance from Bengaluru FC to East Bengal, Boithang Haokip promised something special for his new club. He was given a place in the midfield and the 27-year-old showed he is here to stay.
Haokip was playing as a central midfielder, but often doubling up as a striker. He was there behind all the attacks and even hit the crossbar once in the first half. His understanding with Jaime Santos proved fruitful. He roamed all around the park and delivered some beautiful crosses.
However, it was a day to forget for U-17 World Cup star Abhijit Sarkar, who was also making his debut in Red and Gold colours.
Deployed in the right-wing, Abhijit’s job was to maintain the flow of the attack and deliver useful crosses. But the 19-year-old failed miserably and lost the ball too many times.
#2 East Bengal need one solid striker
Last season, Jobby Justin excelled in East Bengal’s jersey from the very beginning. His performance in the Calcutta Football League was enough to earn him a place in the I-League. He became Menendez’s go-to man in the team. After Enrique Esqueda joined the team, the duo became one of the main threats for the opponents.
However, since Jobby and Esqueda both left East Bengal, the club now needs a solid striker. Santos has played as a striker against Army Red but that is not his favourite position.
Bidyasagar Singh scored a goal after coming on as a substitute but often goes missing from the game.
#1 Santos starts from where he left
Jaime Santos has been a fan favourite from day one in East Bengal. His childish face and prankish attitude make him one of the popular people in the team. He may look childish, but on the field, he is nothing less than a devil.
A player who has some brilliant footwork, Santos tries to make every opportunity count. His speed and brilliant passing ability have already caught the eye of supporters. On Saturday, he showed he is lethal from dead-ball situations too.
In the first half, he got an opportunity to score from a free-kick but his shot rattled the bar before going wide. He made amends in his second chance and scored from the same angle just when it mattered.
His form would be a delight for the club who have tougher assignments ahead.Published 03 Aug 2019, 21:42 IST