Title: East Bengal’s spirits were buoyed right ahead of their crucial derby match next weekend as they defeated Gokulam Kerala at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata on Saturday.
While the Mizo duo Brandon Vanlalremdika and Chullova Pautu put their names on the score sheet along with Keralite Joby Justin Jr. for the Red and Golds, Ghanaian Christian Sabah scored for the away side.
Talk Sports 24×7 analyses the game and notes the five most important talking points from the encounter:
1) Finally the Kolkata Giants are back to winning ways:
The Red and Golds got on to an exuberant start to the season winning two back to back away matches against NEROCA FC (2-0) and Shillong Lajong (3-1), before falling prey to league leaders Chennai City FC (1-2) at home, Aizawl FC (2-3) away, and the defending champions Minerva Punjab (0-1) at home. Finally after three consecutive losses, the Kolkata giants get all points from a home game, defeating the “Giant Killers FC” (3-1) at home.
2) Red and Golds still need to make amends in the defensive third:
Finally, Salam Ranjan Singh made it to the first eleven replacing the Costa Rican World Cupper Johnny Acosta at stopper full-back position. The change did not stop the Kolkata Giants from conceding a goal. East Bengal has conceded 8 goals in six games, including one clean sheet. Gaffer Alejandro Menendez will look forward to put more focus on defence and custodians’ practice to stop conceding goals.
3) Wasteful Keralites pay their price:
The home team’s counter attacking football won over the Keralites’ possessional game. Gokulam with 60% ball possession could register only 2 shots on target in the whole game out of a total 4. With a splendid display of the beautiful game, Gokulam got into the final third but were too casual to put the opponent custodian to test, and they fell prey to the giants who registered 3 goals from 3 shots on target.
4) East Bengal’s spirit boosted ahead of the most awaited Kolkata Derby:
After three losses, the Red and Golds are back on track and are preparing for the most awaited Kolkata Derby against their arch rivals Mohun Bagan who sit on 8th spot with same points from same games but an inferior goal difference. On the other hand, they do have a pressure on their heads with having to play catch up with leaders Chennai City FC who are 8 points ahead of them with only one game less left for them.
5) Manoj Mohammed- A new find:
Very few players get promoted directly from the U-18 team to the senior team, that too in the first eleven in East Bengal. Left back Manoj Mohammed is one of those very few players. Last season it was stopper Mehtab Singh, who was promoted to the senior team a season ago from the youth team, but in this case, Manoj was the captain of the Red and Golds youth side last season. His splendid performance under Ranjan Chaudhuri made Bastab Roy vouch for him in his team in the Hero I-League 2018-19. After Menendez took control, he was quite pleased with Manoj’s performance in training and took him to Malaysia for pre-season. Manoj has started every match in pre-season as well as in I-League. He has marked a rise of a new star in Indian football with his accurate tacking and sense of play. Committing almost no error at all, Manoj is a no-nonsense and composed left back.
He played a vital role in this match dealing with the likes of Sabah, Rajesh and Abhishek Das for the first time. A solid side back, he will have to focus on improving his attacking qualities.
Quess East Bengal rise to the 6th spot with 9 points from 6 games and a Goal difference of +3, while Gokulam Kerala sit tight on the 7th spot with 9 points from 7 games with a zero goal difference.
The Kolkata Giants next meet arch rivals Mohun Bagan at the Salt Lake Vivekananda Yuva Bharati Krirangan on 16th December, while the ‘Giant Killers’ host Northerners Real Kashmir FC at the EMS Corporation Stadium, Kozhikode on 15th December.