Kalyani, West Bengal: Following their emphatic win at Shillong, AFC Cup semifinalists East Bengal will take on a struggling Dempo in their first home match of the I-League here .
After not being in action in the first three rounds due to their AFC Cup commitments, the red and gold brigade began their campaign thrashing Shillong Lajong FC 4-0.
It was creditable that they won without captain Mehtab Hossain, Arnab Mondal, Saumik Dey and T Naoba Singh for another victory before the crucial second and last leg AFC Cup semis against Kuwait SC here on October 22.
They would be without injured duo Ryuji Sueoka and Reisangmi Vashum who who were rested against Lajong to be raring to go in this encounter.
Having lost the away leg, East Bengal required a win with a minimum two-goal margin against the Kuwaiti defending champions as the local heavyweights would look for a big win against the record five-time champions.
The Goans were a shadow of their past as they were yet to taste a victory with three draws from four matches.
After throwing away leads in round two and three against Mumbai FC and Rangdajied United respectively, Dempo showed both character and quality to come from behind and earn a point against Salgaocar in the last game.
Assistant coach Mauricio Afonso, who was in charge due to the absence of head coach Arthur Papas who was in Australia to sort out visa issues, was proud of the team’s comeback and was quoted saying, "Overall, (it was a) good performance by the team, especially in the second half."
Papas would be back in the technical area for this game and would be determined to get the first I-League win of his Dempo tenure, but the Panjim-based club has not beaten East Bengal in their last eight meetings.
East Bengal, on the other hand, had a few problems playing in Kalyani in the recent past and failed to win their last three games there.
Brazilian coach Marcos Falopa, however, was confident and was looking to build on an impressive start in Shillong last week.
"We have started well. The players have been training very hard and we hope to put in a better performance against Dempo," he said.
Despite playing three games less than Dempo, East Bengal were level on points with the five-time record Indian champions and above them in the table due to superior goal difference.
A victory here would see Falopa's side open up a big gap over a club that was traditionally always challenged for the title.