The situation in the FC Goa camp, though, is far grimmer.
Their tempestuous quarterfinal win over Jamshedpur FC came with a heavy price, forcing them to miss five key players through suspension. As the dust settled on that game, which saw three players from both sides being sent off following a bust-up in the tunnel at half time, Goa coach Derrick Pereira is dreading the prospect of playing another match with “not even 11 players.”
The ISL semifinalists had gone into the tournament with 23 players, two less than the normal 25-member squad. According to Pereira, at least four players from the 18 at his disposal are nursing injuries while two of the remaining 14 are goalkeepers.
“There’s a possibility that we may have to start from where we had ended the last match — with 8 players on the pitch. I’m struggling to assemble 11 players for the match,” the FC Goa coach informed on Sunday, adding that four-five players may play their first competitive match of the season.
While their rivals’ woes would be welcome news for East Bengal, the red and golds have their own problems as well. A pathetic conversion rate, coupled with Dudu Omagbemi’s poor form, has been a major concern for Khalid Jamil’s side and the team management is leaving no stone unturned to help the Nigerian regain his scoring touch.
Technical director Subhas Bhowmick, who had thus far confined himself to behind-the-scenes preparation, was at the forefront during East Bengal’s practice session at the Kalinga Stadium’s training ground on Sunday. He spent time with Dudu and the two key midfielders — Mahmoud Al Amna and Katsumi Yusa — who will be entrusted with the duty of linking up with the striker in the attacking third.
Keep Reading This Article