Panaji, Jan 8: Ten-man SC East Bengal managed to restrict FC Goa to a 1-1 draw in their last match at the Tilak Maidan Stadium on Wednesday, courtesy a stunning 80th minute strike from Bright Enobakhare and some brilliant saves by shot-stopper Debjit Majumder. Tomorrow, they play against Bengaluru FC in their tenth fixture and fifth 'away' game this season at the Fatorda Stadium.
The Red-and-Golds currently stand ninth on the points table with seven points from nine games (one win, four draws and four losses). They are currently on a four-match unbeaten run and have lost just one of their last six games.
On Friday, Enobakhare addressed the media at the virtual pre-match Press conference. The 22-year old Nigerian forward has been sensational since his arrival in India, having netted two goals in his first two outings for SCEB.
Speaking about his Hero ISL experience so far and his next target, Enobakhare said, 'It has been a great experience here. The players and the staff have been amazing. My target is to win the next game and get as many points as possible at the end of the season.'
Saturday's contest will be SCEB's third game in just seven days. How taxing has this packed schedule been on the players? 'As time goes on, everything comes back to its place. As I said, we will see how it goes,' Enobakhare observed.
On being asked what his preferred role is between a central playmaker and a targetman, the former Wolves player replied, 'I don't mind playing in any position. (It) Depends on the opposition and the match situation.'
His solo goal against FC Goa, which saw him beat four players on the way, has been the talk of the town. Is it the best he has scored in his brief career so far? 'I scored such a goal on my debut when I was seventeen. It was against Barnet FC,' he said.
Attacking midfielders Anthony Pilkington and Jacques Maghoma didn't start against FCG owing to injuries. Fowler made five changes to the starting XI that took on Odisha FC, as Ankit Mukherjee, Aaron Amadi-Holloway, Harmanpreet Singh and Enobakhare got their first starts this season.
Debjit Majumder was at his very best in the last game, making eight saves to take his save tally to twenty-eight. His heroics between the sticks and resolute defending by the men at the back were instrumental behind the 1-1 result, apart from Enobakhare's stunner.
A major talking point from that game, however, has been whether SCEB captain Danny Fox's red card was a genuine one. Replays later showed that his challenge was on the ball, not on any opposition player, which raises serious questions about the standard of refereeing. It was the second time this season that any SCEB player was sent off because of a dubious decision, the last instance being Eugeneson Lyngdoh's red card against Jamshedpur FC.
Bengaluru FC, meanwhile, are currently placed fifth on the table with twelve points from nine matches (three wins, draws, and losses each). They go into Saturday's contest having suffered three consecutive defeats.
They played their last game on Tuesday, losing it 1-3 to Mumbai City FC. Captain Sunil Chhetri scored for the Blues in the 79th minute off a spot-kick, but it was already too late as MCFC had earned a healthy lead by then.
Chhetri has been BFC's leading scorer this season with four goals. They are third in terms of most goals scored in the ongoing edition (12), with Chhetri, Cleiton Silva and Kristian Opseth spearheading their attack. On the flip side, they've also conceded 12 goals. Their goalkeeper and two-time Hero ISL Golden Glove-winner Gurpreet Singh Sandhu has made 22 saves thus far. Juanan, Rahul Bheke, Dimas Delgado, Erik Paartalu and Udanta Singh are the other BFC players to watch out for.
Having parted ways with Carles Cuadrat, Bengaluru FC are likely to be managed by Naushad Moosa against SCEB.