After another morale-boosting win over arch-rivals Mohun Bagan in a thrilling Kolkata Derby last week, East Bengal will be keen on continuing their winning momentum as they prepare to face Tuesday rock-bottom side Mumbai FC in the I-League game at the Barasat Stadium in West Bengal. The Red and Golds are currently third in the table.
As is the scenario at the moment, the top three â€” Mohun Bagan, Bengaluru FC and East Bengal â€” are the only I-League 2016 title contenders. While the Red and Golds remain third on 23 points, Bagan and Bengaluru FC are on 25 points. The fourth team â€” Shillong Lajong â€” are on 14 points.
With the business end of the season almost here, the top three will be expected to be at their very best for the remainder of the games. The likes of Cavin Lobo, Sanju Pradhan, Do Dong Hyun and Bernard Mendy performed impressively for East Bengal in their game in Siliguri last week, and will be expected to continue their good form.
Also, Nigerian striker Ranti Martins still rules the I-League top scorers' list this season with 11 goals from 12 matches.
East Bengal look by far the better side over Mumbai FC, but taking the remaining challenges lightly will be detrimental, and Biswajit Bhattacharya knows that. "Obviously, there is pressure but we have to take one match at a time and we have to win all our remaining matches and that is how we can go about this, [sic]" the East Bengal coach was quoted by the I-League website as saying ahead of the match.
The actual pressure is on Khalid Jamil's side, who have lost both their previous domestic league fixtures. Mumbai FC have won just twice in their 13 games this season, and the worrying part is they look the favourites to be relegated this time.
"Even though we are placed at the bottom, I have told the boys not to think too much about it," the Mumbai FC coach told Goal ahead of the match. "Instead, I have reminded them of the home match against East Bengal in January, which finished goalless. If we can raise our game and produce a similar performance, it would give us the impetus to at least come out with a point."
Previous result this season: Mumbai FC 0-0 East Bengal
Where to watch live
I-League: East Bengal vs Mumbai FC is scheduled to kick-off at 7:05 p.m. IST (1:35 p.m. GMT), April 5.
Viewers in India and the rest of the subcontinent can catch the game on Ten 2 (Ten Action).
Online streaming will be available on tensports.com.
Live scores of the match can be found on the I-League twitter handle.