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I-League: East Bengal look to maintain winning momentum

October 28, 2012 20:27 IST

East Bengal will aim to continue their winning form while appearing in their first home match of the I-League, against Pune FC, at Kolkata's Salt Lake Stadium, on Monday.

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The third round match comes after the festive break which has allowed the home side substantial rest and time to regroup. In contrast, Pune FC will be playing their first away match after two successive wins at home.

East Bengal coach Trevor James Morgan echoed the same confidence after the team's practice at their home ground on Sunday.

Pune FC"We hope to continue playing good football. It is essential against a strong opponent like Pune FC," Morgan said.

The local giants were in the news recently for a fracas between their two key midfielders Mehtab Hossain and Harmanjot Khabra during practice hardly two days ago.

"The intense involvement of the players during a tough tournament can result in such scuffles. It is common all over the world but the incident here has been blown out of proportion by an egregious media," Morgan downplayed the happening.

"This incident will not affect the team morale, which is very high," insisted the English coach of East Bengal, who has reportedly fined the two players Rs 15,000 each for the breach of discipline.

East Bengal, who are yet to field their injured striker Robin Singh, are expected to retain the side that fetched them a win against United Sikkim FC in the previous round.

The host expected to go full steam with their tested combination of Edeh Chidi and Manandeep Singh in the attack. The rest of the formation is also expected to be the same with Hossain and Orji Penn in the central midfield and Khabra and Ishfaq on the flanks.

The local giants also indicated about fielding Arnab Mondal alongside Uga Okpara in the deep defence while putting seasoned Abhijit Mondal under the bar.

Pune FC are high on confidence riding on an express start. Their longstanding coach Derrick Pereira is banking on the good form of the side and is hopeful of extending the success run.

"East Bengal are experienced team. But in saying so, I also do believe that we have an equally good side to match anybody and hope to get a good result," Pereira said.

Pune FC are expected to include goalkeeper Abhra Mondal, the same man who has joined the on loan from East Bengal. Abhra returns to the squad for the first time in nine months after he cracked his right-leg shin bone in Shillong.

The team, which also has Sudanese striker James Moga and midfielder Arata Izumi in the 18-man squad, will be eager to relive their last victory over the same host in the 2009-2010 season.

"He has the experience for big match situations and moreover knows what one should expect in Kolkata," Pereira said.

With options aplenty, Pune FC are expected to hand starts to some of their new inclusions.

Upfront Moga, who resumed training with the side after recovering from Malaria since a week, seems a certainly to play alongside Jeje Lalpekhlua, with the focus on breaking the three loss run to Trevor Morgan's side at Kolkata in previous outings.

The kick-off is at 2:30 pm.

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