SC East Bengal will face a tall task of keeping their seven-match unbeaten streak alive when they take on table-toppers Mumbai City FC in an Indian Super League fixture at the Tilak Maidan Stadium on Friday.
SCEB have turned around their fortunes in remarkable fashion after losing four of the first five games they played in their maiden season and are currently on a seven-match unbeaten run.
Currently placed at the 10th position with 12 points, a couple of wins will keep SCEB's playoff hopes alive. However, that's easier said than done, considering they next face league leaders Mumbai City FC, who will present a much tougher challenge than the ones SCEB encountered in the last match.
"Mumbai are a good side and they have been doing really well," said SCEB assistant coach Renedy Singh.
"But I feel we have to consider our own style, how we've played in the last seven matches. I think the boys have worked really hard. It is a process that we have to continue. We will work on our own side while giving respect to them."
While the arrival of Bright Enobakhare has given them a trump card in attack, SCEB still have defensive issues. No team has conceded as many goals as them in the second half (13) and only one has conceded more in the last fifteen minutes of the match (5). SC East Bengal boss Robbie Fowler will, however, be buoyed by the form that his keeper Debjit Majumder has been displaying.
In Mumbai, they face a team well-equipped to take advantage of these flaws. If SCEB is prone to conceding in the second half, Sergio Lobera's side specializes in scoring in the first.
No team has netted more in the first half than the ten that Mumbai have managed. They are also now unbeaten in ten games.
Three more and Mumbai will set a league record for the longest unbeaten streak in ISL history, overtaking FC Goa's 12-game run.
"The most important thing is to win a trophy. Obviously, it is a consequence to do a lot of things well. If during the way, we have very good numbers, lots of goals, lots of clean sheets and possession of the ball, you have more possibility of winning the trophy," said Lobera.
"But if I need to refuse these records in order to win a trophy, then I will prefer to win a trophy because that is the best record of all." Lobera is not underestimating the challenge he faces on Friday.
"I think it would be a big mistake if we played tomorrow's game keeping in mind the past match against them," he said. "They are a completely different team and they have improved a lot in performance levels."