East Bengal will look to snap its hat-trick of defeats when it hosts Gokulam Kerala FC in the I-League here on Saturday.
In pursuit of its maiden I-League title, the red-and-gold brigade had a dream start to its campaign with successive wins but suffered a string of losses later and has now slipped to eighth place in the points table.
With this being its last match before the Kolkata derby against Mohun Bagan, East Bengal coach Alejandro Menendez will be under pressure to get his combination right and gain some momentum before the marquee December 16 clash. East Bengal’s midfield has looked in complete disarray and the Spaniard has used a total of eight players but is yet to find the right combination even after five matches.
The home side will be boosted by the arrival of Spanish attacking midfielder Jaime Santos Colado, who has become its sixth foreign recruit. The 23-year-old was attended a training session but is unlikely to start.
Kamalpreet Singh, who has failed to shine in a makeshift position as a central midfielder, is likely to be replaced by Prakash Sarkar. East Bengal will also look to find an alternative for Mahmoud Al Amna, who has been struggling with injuries.
Gokulam, on the other hand, has come back strongly by registering two wins and a draw in its last three matches to finds itself in the top-five.
The Kerala outfit received a major setback on Wednesday when its star forward Antonio German terminated his contact. A former Kerala Blasters player in the Indian Super League, the 26-year-old appeared in all the six matches for Gokulam this season and struck twice for the side.
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“I wasn’t enjoying myself and I was not happy with certain things. I will never speak bad about the club but as a footballer, you need to enjoy where you are and you need to be happy in order to perform so I decided to make the decision to leave,” he said on his social media account.
In such a scenario, Gokulam coach Bino George will bank on young Indian recruits like Rajesh S, Arjun Jayaraj and Gani Ahmed Nigam, who have impressed so far.