SC East Bengal face Jamshedpur FC in their opening match of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2021-22 season at the Tilak Maidan Stadium in Vasco da Gama, Goa on November 21.
The Red and Gold Brigade couldn’t make much of an impact in their inaugural season of the Hero ISL, finishing ninth in the league table. On the flip side, the Red Miners are yet to make it to the top four, finishing sixth in the league standings last season.
Both the teams will be eyeing the three points and would want to kickstart the Hero ISL 2021-22 campaign with a win.
SC East Bengal
SCEB look well prepared for the upcoming season as they were unbeaten in their pre-season friendlies, winning three out of four games and a stalemate against defending champions Mumbai City FC in their last pre-season game.
The Men of Steel are leaving no stone unturned as they too were unbeaten in their pre-season friendlies, winning three out of four games and keeping a clean sheet in those. The other game was a 1-1 draw against Bengaluru FC.
গত মরশুমে একবারও তাদের হারাতে পারেনি যারা, সেই ইস্পাতনগরীর দলের বিরুদ্ধে অপরাজিত থাকার ধারা অক্ষুণ্ন রেখে এবার যাত্রা শুরু করতে পারবে SC East Bengal?
— Indian Super League (@IndSuperLeague) November 21, 2021
SC East Bengal
Following the departure of Robbie Fowler as the head coach by mutual consent, the Red and Gold Brigade have roped in former Real Madrid Castilla manager Manolo Diaz as their new head coach for the upcoming season. Addressing key concerns of defensive vulnerability in the last season, the Bengal-based side have signed goalkeeper and Golden Glove winner of last season, Arindam Bhattacharja from ATK Mohun Bagan.
Leading from the back, SCEB have signed former Perth Glory and Australian national team defender Tomislav Mrcela, who will be pairing up with former Lazio defender Franjo Prce. The midfield will be at the helm of India U-23 international Amarjit Singh who will have support from Md. Rafique, Jackichand Singh, and Bikash Jairu.
Diaz will have quite the challenging task to choose the starting four from a talented list of foreign players including former Ajax midfielder Darren Sidoel, Slovenian midfielder Amir Dervisevic, Nigerian striker Daniel Chukwu, and Croatian forward Antonio Perosevic. It will be interesting to see how the Bengal side shapes up under Diaz.
Drop your predictions
•Emerging player of the season
— Voice of Indian Football (@VoiceofIndianF1) November 16, 2021
The Men of Steel had a bustling transfer season to ensure they are firing from all cylinders as the season commences. Coyle brought in six key foreign signings: experienced English defender Peter Hartley, acting as the skipper for the season, Australian forward Jordan Murray who will be forming a formidable partnership in the final third with Lithuanian Nerijus Valskis. Bolstering the midfield will be the Brazilian duo of Eli Sabia and Alex Lima, joined by Scottish attacking midfielder Greg Stewart.
On the domestic front, the Jamshedpur-based side have signed India international Ishan Pandita who will eye a place in the first team with his precision and instinctive finishing with Farukh Choudhary, the Indian international forward, being out of action due to knee injury. The signing of Pronoy Halder will be an essential element in breaking down the opponent’s attack thanks to his ability to control the central area of the putch. Defender Laldinpuia’s versatility will come in handy to break down any adversity throughout the season.
SC East Bengal
The custodian would be tasked with providing stability and leadership to a defensive line that looked extremely vulnerable last season. Bhattacharja had a mesmerizing 2020-21 season with ATK Mohun Bagan, taking home the Golden Glove, as he kept 10 clean sheets, made 59 saves, and conceded just 19 goals in 23 games.
A product of the famed Ajax academy, the 23-year-old has joined SC East Bengal, after stints in the Netherlands, England, Bulgaria, and most recently in Spain. Coach Diaz has previously worked with the defensive midfielder in his time at Hércules CF, and the understanding between the two, coupled with Sidoel’s technical prowess would make him a pivotal member of the squad.
The 31-year-old attacking midfielder has joined Jamshedpur FC from champions of Scotland, Rangers FC. The Scotsman has spent eight years in Scottish Premiership (top-tier league in Scotland) and two years in EFL Championship (second-tier league in England). This will be his first stint outside the UK but looking at the level he has performed over the years, one would back him to be a success in India.
The 33-year-old center-back has joined Jamshedpur FC from Chennaiyin FC after spending three consecutive seasons with them. The Brazilian has played 67 matches in Hero ISL, in which he has made 424 clearances, 132 tackles, 111 interceptions and 94 blocks. He will hope to make up for Stephen Eze’s absence in central defence and establish a solid partnership with Peter Hartley.
Fortune does not favour SC East Bengal?
SC East Bengal played 11 games of the Hero ISL 2020-21 season at the Tilak Maidan Stadium, winning just one of those. They beat Odisha 3-1 on January 3. That win was their first ever win in the Hero ISL. They drew 5 and lost another 5. The Red and Gold Brigade also conceded 16 goals at this stadium, the most by any team in the last season.
Valskis – the talisman for Jamshedpur FC
Ever since the Lithuanian striker made his debut in the Hero ISL, only Roy Krishna has scored more goals (29) than Valskis who has scored 23 in the same time period. Valskis also has the third highest number of goal contributions (29), only behind Roy Krishna (43) and Hugo Boumous (31). He has also managed to score against every ISL team except Bengaluru FC and SC East Bengal, a record which he’ll look forward to breaking.
The tale of the second half
No team has conceded more goals in the second half of the Hero ISL 2020-21 season than SC East Bengal (24). The club conceded around 72 % of their goals in the second half of games. On the other hand, Jamshedpur FC scored just 10 goals in the second half of games in the last season of the Hero ISL, only Chennaiyin FC have scored less (7).
Match Timings and Telecast Details
Match: SC East Bengal vs Jamshedpur FC
Date: 21 November 2021
Venue: Tilak Maidan Stadium, Vasco da Gama, Goa
Kick-off time: 7.30 pm
Telecast: Star Sports 2, Star Sports 2 HD, Star Sports 3, Star Sports 1 Hindi, Star Sports 1 Hindi HD, Star Sports 1 regional channels – Tamil, Bengali, Kannada, Telugu
Online Streaming: Disney+Hotstar and JioTV.