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I-League 2017: Aizawl FC vs East Bengal Preview: Reds look to close gap at the top

Goal.com logo Goal.com 19-02-2017

I-League round ten’s final fixture sees Aizawl FC square-off against the famed East Bengal at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium, Aizawl on Monday afternoon.

The home team find themselves four points adrift at the top and a win would help them close the gap to a point.

Coach Khalid Jamil has surprised critics this season as his team has done exceptionally well. In the nine games they have played, only in one fixture have they not managed to find the back of the net.

The 40-year-old is expected to start with Albino Gomes in goal after his top-notch performance against Bengaluru FC where he saved a penalty from Sunil Chhetri. Lalramchullova, who has recovered from an injury and started in their last two outings, is expected to be the preferred right-back with Kingsley Eze and Zohmingliana Ralte as the two centre-backs. Lalruatthara will slot into the left-back role.

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Jamil has used Alfred Jaryan in the central midfield alongside the creative playmaker Mahmoud Al Amna. Brandon Vanlalremdika and Ashutosh Mehta will provide service from the flanks to Jayesh Rane and Stephane Kamo Bayi.

Defensively they have been solid on home soil having only leaked in three in five games.

East Bengal come into game on the back of two draws in Siliguri. Trevor Morgan would hope that his team can get their bearings right in order to extend their lead further at the summit of the I-League table.

Mehtab Hossain, who is deployed at the base of the diamond midfield, has to shoulder a lot of defensive responsibility. Jamil will certainly look to pressurise the experienced Indian medio and look to hit the Red and Golds on the counter utilising the pace of Rane.

Ivan Bukenya has been amongst the best defenders this season and his towering height certainly creates a doubt or two in the minds of opposition attackers. However, as witnessed in the last tie, a diminutive Samuel Lalmuanpuia managed to get the better off him and find the back of the net. Morgan would hope that the return of Arnab Mondal from injury shall further strengthen his team’s defence, who have conceded the least alongside Mohun Bagan.

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Willis Plaza, the Trinidadian striker who has scored six so far, hasn’t been at his best against the top teams such as Mohun Bagan and Bengaluru FC. East Bengal faithful would hope that the 29-year-old can put in a commendable display against the resolute defence of Aizawl FC.

Can East Bengal return to winning ways in Aizawl?

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Kick-off is at 1405 IST. PREDICTED LINE-UPS

AIZAWL F.C. Injured: None Doubtful: None Suspended: None Key Player: Mahmoud Al Amna EAST BENGAL F.C. Injured: Anwar Ali, Cavin Lobo, Bikash Jairu Doubtful: None Suspended: None Key Player: Wedson Anselme

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