Kolkata: Fresh from an away victory, a resurgent East Bengal will be further bolstered by the arrival of their new coach Mario Rivera when they take on bottom-placed Indian Arrows in an I-League clash at Kalyani on Saturday.
The 42-year-old was appointed head coach till the end of the ongoing season following the resignation of Alejandro Menendez in the aftermath of their 1-2 derby debacle to Mohun Bagan.
Rivera was Menendez's deputy and also doubled up as the head coach's interpreter and his familiarity with the conditions will be an added bonus for the Red-and-Gold brigade, who are going through a difficult phase.
But to their advantage, East Bengal have managed to snap their three-match losing streak with a 2-0 win over Chennai City in Coimbatore in their previous outing.
East Bengal, who have 11 points from eight matches, have three home ties on the trot beginning with the AIFF developmental side and they would look to make the most out of them under the new coach.
After Saturday's clash, East Bengal will take on Aizawl FC and Punjab FC on February 7 and 13 respectively.
"The mood is very good after a great game against Chennai. Everyone feels positive but a lot of work still needs to be done. Indian Arrows will be a tough challenge. They have young players, who like to run a lot and are great while in possession. It's not going to be easy," East Bengal captain Lalrindika Ralte said on the eve of the match.
Having trailed Mohun Bagan by 12 points just two weeks ago, a win for East Bengal will take them to within six points of their arch-rivals, and subsequently, back in the title race.
Red and Golds looked like a completely transformed side against Chennai with some simple, yet effective tweaks paying dividends.
Asheer Akhtar has been a revelation at the back and with Marti Crespi returning from suspension, Kamalpreet Singh might have to walk an extra mile in training to retain his position in the eleven.
Brandon Vanlalremdika had a brilliant outing as well and might start yet again at the expense of Pintu Mahata.
The Arrows, on the other hand, suffered their third straight defeat, going down to Real Kashmir 0-2 and remained at the bottom with four points from eight matches.
The Arrows continue to play their experimental brand of exciting football with Indian national team manager Igor Stimac keeping a close eye on them.
"Motivation is not a problem for these boys. We are a young side that is developing and learning with every game and we will continue doing that against Quess East Bengal," head coach of Indian Arrows Shanmugam Venkatesh said.
"Results matter but fundamentally, we are a developmental side. We have been training hard each day and all the boys have grown as individuals and players over the season. They are giving their all on the pitch each time.
"East Bengal are a very good team. They have great quality in their squad. They have some of the top players in the league and they will come into the match with great confidence, having played well in their previous match against Chennai," he concluded.