SC East Bengal will look to beef up their attack and secure their maiden win in the Indian Super League when they take on Mumbai City FC at the GMC Athletic Stadium in Bambolim on Tuesday. Despite heavy odds, the Robbie Fowler-coached East Bengal put up a creditable show in their first outing of ISL, against ATK Mohun Bagan even though they lost 0-2.
Last to enter the Indian Super League, Fowler had less than a month to build the squad and if that was not enough they were pitted against their formidable arch-rivals on debut. But Fowler's side dominated possession and their former Norwich City winger Anthony Pilkington looked threatening in the midfield. It was lack of finishing prowess with Balwant Singh upfront that proved costly for them.
"It's not been the most ideal preparation. For a team that has been together for two-and-a-half weeks, I think we put in a good performance," Fowler said following their defeat to ATKMB.
"But we've accepted it, adapted to it. We were incredibly late coming here, so we have not trained together. But the way we played, we proved we can get better and better," Fowler added.
Apart from Pilkington, Matti Steinmann looked strong in passes and held possession for long, but their Indian contingent would need to buck up and the forward line to convert their chances when they clash against the Sergio Lobera-outfit.
After securing their first win of the season, Mumbai City FC will be keen to build on the momentum. The Islanders have dominated possession in both their matches, however, they have struggled to score. They have registered just one goal so far, joint least among teams who have played two matches.
The Adam Le Fondre-Hugo Boumous pair will once again be key for Mumbai's attack. It remains to be seen though if Bartholomew Ogbeche gets his place in the starting XI.
"It is going to be a good game because they are a very good team in defence. We need to work very well to win the game," said the Mumbai City FC coach.
"Our plan is the same, always our focus is to try and improve our level and to try and learn about our mistakes, which we made in the last two games and nothing changes about what I want as a coach", he added.
The contest will also be a momentous occasion for defender Mandar Rao Dessai, who could become the first player in the ISL to complete 100 appearances. "It's important for a player to play as many matches as possible," the Goan said.
"I'm really proud about this. And I dedicate this to all my teammates and the coaches I've played under in this league."
With both teams adopting a possession-based style, the clash promises to be an intriguing one. Sergio Lobera's side has averaged 511 passes per match so far while East Bengal completed 476 passes in their opening game.