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I-League 2017: Aizawl FC a big challenge, says East Bengal coach Khalid Jamil

East Bengal will start their I-League campaign against Aizwal FC on Tuesday

News 28 Nov 2017, 10:44 IST


Coach Khalid Jamil was roped in by East Bengal earlier this season

What's the story?

East Bengal FC are scheduled to play defending champions Aizwal FC in their season opener at the iconic Salt Lake Stadium on Tuesday. Coach Khalid Jamil is not taking the defending champions lightly and says that the match is a ‘big challenge’ and he is hoping for a ‘positive start’. The 8 pm kickoff will be the third I-League match this season and the first in this stadium after a quite a long time, following its renovation for the 2017 Under-17 FIFA World Cup, which concluded last month.

In case you didn't know...

East Bengal are a three-time national league winner and one of the contenders to win the I-League which is still missing from their trophy cabinet. Their 13-year trophy drought is more than unbearable for their passionate supporters. 

The heart of the matter

The former Aizwal FC coach feels that the visiting team will be a hard nut to crack, especially the local boys from North-East. “It is a big challenge; we need a good start, a positive start, we'll go step by step. They are a good side. The players from Mizoram work very hard, whether it is a practice session or it’s a match. They give their 100 percent. They are quite fit,” said Khalid during the pre-match conference.

On being asked whether his team is ready for the upcoming tie and if he is feeling any pressure, he said, “It is hard to say if the team is ready, but we have to give our best on the field. The 11 players who will start tomorrow have to give their 100 percent. I am nervous, I am under pressure, but I want to perform tomorrow.”

Meanwhile, the coach did not reveal who will start as the captain of the East Bengal team tomorrow, and if veteran Arnab Mondal will be included the 18-member squad. 

What's next?

With most of the I-League winning players absent from the Aizawl, the ‘Red and Gold’ brigade are set to have the upper hand on Tuesday. More importantly, Khalid Jamil, who led Aizwal FC to their historic triumph last year is now the manager of East Bengal.

It will also be a match to check out the combination of the whole team ahead of the much anticipated Kolkata derby against Mohun Bagan on Sunday. 

Author's take

East Bengal FC have a very impressive side this season and are one of the frontrunners in the League alongside their most celebrated rival Mohun Bagan. With Japanese playmaker Katsumi Yusa and former Aizwal FC’s Mahmoud Amnah in their squad, it is likely they will grab all the three points on offer in the first match. 

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