Durand Cup 2019: East Bengal FC vs Gokulam Kerala FC | Match Preview, Team News, Live Streaming Details
After winning three matches out of three in the Durand Cup group stages, East Bengal are all set to face Gokulam Kerala FC in the semi-final on Wednesday. East Bengal are on song in the age old competition, scoring 10 goals and conceding just one in the group stage.
On paper, their semi-final affair is going to be the toughest match this season. The Red and Golds mostly faced sides who are inexperienced to play at this level. But Gokulam came with their full team and will push themselves hard against the Red and Gold Brigade.
East Bengal will get a week rest after playing their last match against Bengaluru FC, which they won 2-1. They had a Calcutta Football League match against BSS Sporting Club on August 17. But on request from the Indian Army, who are organizing the Durand Cup, the match has been postponed, much to relieve of coach Alejandro Menendez who often complained about the difficulty of playing two tournaments simultaneously.
Although, East Bengal have no injury concern ahead of the big match (which is a relief for the whole team) but they will have to plug in the gaps in defence. Though they’ve conceded only two goals so far this season, the match against Bengaluru showed why East Bengal defenders should rethink their plan.
The young and speedy Bengaluru attackers continuously exploited East Bengal defence, and apart from Borja Gomez Perez, others had a hard time stopping them. Gokulam, which have a mercurial striker like Marcus Joseph, will pose different threat for the Red and Gold Brigade.
As the tournament doesn’t allow more than three foreigners on the field at any given time, it will difficult for Menendez to introduce both Marti Crespi and Borja. If he does that, he will have to play either Kassim Aidara or Jaime Santos Colado. It seems Asheer Akhtar will get another chance alongside Borja as East Bengal are looking to field a strong line-up.
Like all the other I-League teams, Gokulam Kerala are taking the tournament seriously. Just like their opponents on Wednesday, Gokulam have won all their group matches quite comfortably. They thrashed Chennaiyin FC 4-0 in their opening match before trouncing Indian Air Force in their second to confirm semi-final berth.
In their last match, they displayed another superb performance to thrash Trau FC. In the three matches, they’ve scored 11 goals, which is most by any team in this tournament.
Bidyasagar Singh (East Bengal)
Bidyasagar Singh has announced his arrival this season. With five goals to his name, the Manipuri players has already become a key player for the team. In their opening match against Army Red when East Bengal were struggling, it was Bidyasagar who earned a penalty for his team in the dying minutes before scoring a goal later. Against Bengaluru, he came on as a second half substitute and scored a brace to win the match for his team. He will most probably start in the semi-final match, as Menendez wants no stone unturned.
Marcus Joseph (Gokulam Kerala)
After a disappointing performance in the first half of I-League last season, Gokulam were desperately looking for a goal-scorer and they found the answer in Marcus Joseph, who impressed in the last few matches. Seeing his goal-scoring ability, Gokulam decided to retain the Trinidad and Tobago forward.
Joseph didn’t disappoint either. With eight goals including two hat-tricks, he has become the fiercest striker in the Durand Cup. His performance in the upfront made defenders wary of the possible threat. In all probability, Joseph is going to put much pressure on the East Bengal defence Wednesday.
East Bengal FC vs Gokulam Kerala FC
Date: 21st August, 2019
Kick-off: 3 PM IST
Livestream: Star Sports 3 and otstar
Venue: Salt Lake Stadium, Kolkata
Though East Bengal will face a very crucial test, it seems they will somehow get past Gokulam by the slimmest margin.
Predicted Score: East Bengal 1-0 Gokulam Kerala