ISL 2022-23: East Bengal faces tough challenge against FC Goa's youth troop
East Bengal is off to a losing start to ISL 2022-23, suffering a defeat to Kerala Blasters. It faces FC Goa on Wednesday, which plays its season's opening match. The latter's young side could make things challenging for the former.
The second game week of the 2022-23 Indian Super League (ISL) kicks off at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan Stadium in Kolkata on Wednesday, as East Bengal hosts FC Goa. The Gaurs will be playing their opening match of the new season, while the Bangal Brigade will be looking for its maiden campaign win after an opening-day failure against Kerala Blasters.
In the final third, EB head coach Stephen Constantine might change his approach to intensify his side's creativity. The Torch Bearers ended the last match with a couple of targeted shots. Both goal attempts came via Alex Lima, who saw his opening shot saved in the initial phases of the contest and then scored with his second in the end.
Striker Cleiton Silva failed to test the rival goalkeeper throughout the game. The Brazilian's strike partner Suhair Vadakkepeedika was also counterproductive and was superseded near the hour mark. EB's defence kept the attackers at bay until the final quarter of the contest. Kamaljit Singh created seven saves but was eventually overpowered.
"It's not about how you start the season. It's about how you finish it. We will get better every week. The players will better understand what we are asking them to do. They are working very hard. I'm thrilled with the atmosphere in the team. We have six solid foreign players and a group of Indian payers with something to prove. So we will continue to work and, hopefully, we can grab the three points against Goa and move on", said Constantine ahead of the clash.
A couple of years after announcing his retirement as a player, Carlos Peña returns to Goa as its new manager, aiming to turn things around. Last season, the Gaurs averaged 0.95 points per match. It was the first time they averaged below a point per game in the league.
To change that stat this season, Goa has roped in Noah Sadaoui, Fares Arnaout, Iker Guarrotxena and Marc Valiente and will give these foreigners their maiden taste of the ISL. The Gaurs also signed former Blasters striker Alvaro Vazquez. Former Odisha FC keeper Arshdeep Singh. Also, bright teen Ayush Dev Chhetri was impressive in the I-League last season with Aizawl. Only 11 of Goa's players are above 25, with most in the bracket between 20-25.
"We have the youngest squad in the league this season, but that is not a problem. That is a challenge. We are going to see an FC Goa with a strong personality. They are a very competitive team. We are ready to start the season," addressed Pena. The Torch Bearers and Gaurs have faced off on four instances in the ISL.
A couple of those contests ended in a deadlock. Both sides have snared a thin triumph over the other in the previous two meetings. Goa is yet to win an ISL match at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan Stadium. It has drawn four and yielded a couple in six contests at the venue.