THE BLOG BY CPD FOOTBALL | The World of Indian football and beyond by Chris Punnakkattu Daniel

It's do or die for East Bengal

East Bengal Club training

East Bengal Club training

Fortunes in football change fast. Only a couple of days back East Bengal were the title favourites for this season’s I-League crown. But the defeat against Salgaocar in their last match has upstaged it all. So much so, that even if they win all their remaining three matches, they may end up being ‘so near yet so far.’

For East Bengal’s English coach, the next two matches can wait for the meantime. As they face Churchill Brothers at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Fatorda on Sunday, Morgan declares, “It’s do or die for us.”

“We cannot afford to lose anymore. If we lose, the hard work that we have put in over the last ten months will just go waste. The Players don’t want that to happen.”

East Bengal’s tragedy stays even victories in all the remaining three matches doesn’t guarantee them the title. But Morgan refuses to give in. “At the present, Salgaocar does enjoy the advantage. But we just can’t sit back and relax. We ought to win and we will go all out,” he said, only to add: “The rest is not in our hands.”

There’s something about ‘Destination Goa’ and Morgan has been quick to utilise the sea and the sand to lift up the morale of the East Bengal squad. The positive part stays that the trio of Opara, Gurwinder, Nirmal who were suspended for the last match against Salgaocar are available against Churchill.

For the record, East Bengal stay on 47 points from 23 matches, while Churchill Brothers are on the same number of points but have played a match extra.

The extra match played may have just ruled them out of the top spot but Churchill stay very much in reckoning to finish third or maybe even at the second spot. A win they know, will push East Bengal out of the reckoning.

Often branded as a one-man army, Churchill will look again to striker Odafa Okolie to do it for them but the poacher refused to be drawn into the match. Morgan only hopes it’s not the lull before the storm.

The last time the two teams met, the match ended 2-2. The kick-off is slated for 4.30pm.

Bagan take on JCT

In another match, McDowell Mohun Bagan will be keen to put it across JCT at the Salt Lake Stadium. Bagan presently stay at the sixth spot with 31 points from 24 matches while JCT languish in the relegation zone with 24 points from 24 matches.

Knowing that the title is way beyond their reach, Bagan’s Technical Director Subhas Bhowmick stay determined to win the remaining two matches in the League and move up the table.

“We will try to win both our encounters and end the season on a high,” he said.

The last time the two teams met, Bagan have prevailed by a solitary goal. The kick-off is slated for 5pm.