East Bengal entertain Shillong Lajong later today in a round 21 encounter of the Airtel I-League and coach Armando Colaco wants his side to make the most of their home advantage and close the gap with league leaders Bengaluru FC.
The Kolkata giants trail Bengaluru by 14 points but have four games in hand and need to be highly consistent until the end of the campaign to stand any chance of winning their first-ever league title since 2004.
Colaco’s team returned to winning ways earlier this week as they defeated Mohammedan Sporting 2-1 and now the five-time Indian league winning coach wants to build on that victory.
“The win in the last match has boosted the morale of the team and we will try to take advantage of home conditions and aim to garner maximum points to move up the ladder in the I League table. There is no point in underestimating Lajong as they are a good outfit with quality players like Taisuke Matsugane and Uilliams Bomfin,” Colaco was quoted saying at Thursday’s pre-match press conference.
Maybe the reason why Colaco didn’t mention Lajong’s top scorer Cornell Glen is because the 2006 Trinidad & Tobago World Cupper is doubtful. The north-east club are currently fifth in the table but defeat will see them get overtaken by East Bengal.
“Although we lost 0-4 at home earlier in the season, we will try to put up a fine performance here. East Bengal are strong despite some of the injuries as they have plenty of strength in depth,” Lajong coach Thangboi Singto stated.
Among those East Bengal absentees is influential Nigerian central defender Uga Okpara, who could even be ruled out for the rest of the season, but veteran midfielder Alvito D’Cunha believes their side cannot make any excuses if they want to challenge for the title.
“We will miss Uga because not only is he a great player but he also has leadership qualities. However we still have to perform and win the match. It is very important to have a good run of wins now,” Alvito opined.
The match kicks off at 5pm later today and is LIVE on Ten Action.