East Bengal are going to play the second leg match against arch-rivals Mohun Bagan of this edition of the I-League on Sunday, 27th January at the Salt Lake Stadium.
The red and golds are not in a favourable position this time. With 22 points from 12 matches, they are sitting on the fourth position on the league table. Given the chance that they would be second with a win, East Bengal will be aiming all the three points from the match.
But the task is not easy. Mohun Bagan got a new lease of life under their new coach Khalid Jamil, as they won two back-to-back matches. It will be ‘revenge’ match for Jamil too, who was sacked last season after failing to deliver results. Also, Sony Norde will once again be playing a Derby, after missing the last three encounters.
“I have always said that I treat all the matches equally. Definitely this (Derby) is going to be a big match for us, but we are focusing on our team because sometimes small mistakes can cost you the game. We don’t want that,” said Alejandro Menendez before the match.
Let us look at the reasons why East Bengal could possibly come out victorious on Sunday.
#3 Closed training sessions
Since he was hired as the coach of East Bengal, Spaniard Alejandro Menendez kept allowing the fans and the media to witness their training sessions. But ahead of the Derby, he preferred close door training sessions.
The situation is the same like it was in the first leg. But there is a slight difference this time. In the first leg, the boundaries of the practice ground were covered with black clothes upon instructions by Menendez. That didn’t serve the purpose as one could easily see what was transpiring inside.
This time, Menendez changed the practice ground altogether. Instead of VYBK, East Bengal are now training inside Sports Authority of India training ground, which was built during U-17 World Cup. Media and fans are strictly not allowed.
That proves the Spanish coach is taking the match seriously and he doesn’t want to throw his strategy open. He also wants his team to be supremely fit when they take the field on Sunday.
For that, Menendez introduced Speed, Agility and Quickness (SAQ) training among red and golds footballers. The players were instructed to increase their quickly in order to bamboozle opponent defenders. They should also change their position in the process.
The next part was grid training where five players will move by playing passes within them. One player will be on the opposite side to block them. This was dedicated to the defenders to block counter-attacks.
The players were divided into two teams and played a practice match, but usual size of the field was shortened so that they could find space and play short passes.
“The players needed to concentrate on the match. For that, a close door training session was inevitable. Also, we had to work on some strategies which we don’t want to divulge,” Menendez said at the pre-match press conference.
East Bengal may come out with a different approach and different strategy this time which could win them the match.