ISL 2021 kicks off within a few days as East Bengal begin their 2021-22 season against Jamshedpur FC on 21st November. It was a tough debut for the torch bearers in the league last time around finishing at 9th place with 3 wins, 8 draws and 9 losses. Additionally, the Kolkata giants were deprived of Derby delight by the Mariners after losing 0-2 and 1-3 against them in the league.
However, Robbie Fowler was replaced by former Real Madrid Castilla and youth side head coach Jose Manuel Diaz. After uncertain few months about playing in the Indian Super League or not, the club made some sudden changes in the squad as well as in the coaching staff. Diaz prefers a 4-4-2 formation and East Bengal has included some exciting foreigners and Indian players in their 33-member squad.
Last season, despite keeping some uncommon coaches such as set-piece coach, the Red and Golds were well beaten by their opponents. However, this time, with some new additions, the Kolkata giants will hope for the best.
East Bengal has been one of the popular clubs in India since its inception on 1st August 1920. However, in recent times, they have been struggling lately due to improper preparations for the upcoming tournaments. Before entry into ISL, the torchbearers have won 16 Durand Cups, 29 IFA Shield titles, 8 Federation cups and 3 National Football League (older format of current I-League) trophies.
For the upcoming season, the club started buying players just a few days before the end of the transfer window. But, the recruits have proved themselves in their former clubs and would be looking ahead for the new season with their new club. Let’s now have a look at the squad.
ISL 2021 : East Bengal squad
SC East Bengal announced their 33-member squad for the ISL 2021 yesterday. The foreign contingent includes Australian Tomislav Mrcela, Franjo Prce, Daniel Chima Chukwu, Darren Sidoel, Amir Dervisevic and Antonio Perosevic. The players have had a good experience in Europe such as Prce, who had played for Serie A side Lazio in the past while Chima had won three Norwegian League titles with Molde.
Additionally, veterans Adil Khan and Balwant Singh would be firing in on all cylinders alongside the foreign recruits. The notable arrival is of Arindam Bhattacharya from the Mariners and would be most probably the first choice goalkeeper for Manuel Diaz.
The squad has a perfect balance of youth and experience. Subha Ghosh could be a great signing for them after considering his form during the preseason with Kerala Blasters. Songpu Singsit and Hira Mondal would also be keen on creating an impact on the biggest stage.
The defensive department relies on the shoulders of Mrcela, Prce as well as goalie Bhattacharya, defenders Adil Khan and Raju Gaikwad. The team had played three preseason friendlies and have won all three (3-1 vs Vasco, 2-0 vs Salgaonkar and 2-1 vs Gokulam Kerala FC). They will play champions Mumbai City in their final pre-season friendly on 14th November.
Unlike Mumbai, the East Bengal squad possesses two foreign defenders and the defence is full of options. However, the team would find it difficult under their new coach and new foreign contingent. Last season, they were the third-worst team in conceding goals (33 goals) and third-worst in scoring goals (23 goals). However, with the addition of experienced players like Arindam and Adil, the expectations would be high.
A 5th or 6th place finish looks on the cards. Because Mumbai, Hyderabad, Goa and ATK Mohun Bagan are looking like the probable candidates for the top four places. However, anything can happen in ISL!
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