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In-form East Bengal face leaky Kerala Blasters (Match Preview 59)

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Vasco (Goa), Jan 14 (IANS) SC East Bengal on the back of a consistent string of results over the past three games, face Kerala Blasters in Friday night’s Indian Super League (ISL) fixture at the Tilak Maidan Stadium here.

East Bengal have been on an upward curve since the two sides last met in December. Kerala Blasters salvaged a 1-1 draw in that match due to a goal scored in injury time. East Bengal are unbeaten in their last five games, securing two wins on the way. Despite being ninth on the table, they find themselves just five points away from a playoff spot.

“We are on a good little run and when people were quick to criticise us, we weren’t getting carried away and likewise (we aren’t now),” said East Bengal coach Robbie Fowler.

“We know there’s plenty of hard work that we will be continuing to do. We look a more confident team and a settled team. We are in a good space but we need to keep growing and do what we are doing. So far, it has progressed more than the way we wanted at the start.”

The Kolkata giants have been creating chances and found a way to score goals, an area they struggled in at the start of the season. The addition of young Bright Enobakhare has bolstered their forward line with the Nigerian contributing two goals from three games. The midfield has also stepped up, providing seven of their 10 goals this season — contributing more than any other midfield.

This will come as a major boost against a Kerala side that has shipped the most goals this season (19) and just kept one clean sheet. But similar to East Bengal, Kerala’s attack has also been in form, scoring 13 goals — only Mumbai City FC and Hyderabad FC have netted more. Eight different goal scorers have been involved for Kibu Vicuna’s side — the joint-most by a team. But Kerala’s struggling defence is not an issue for Vicuna as long as his side is scoring more goals.

“The most important thing is not about conceding but scoring more than the opponent,” Vicuna said. “If you score more than you concede, the morale is automatically high. We are working on that. The important thing right now is that in the last few matches we have been creating chances. We have to continue this with balance and limit opponents to lesser chances and (ensure) that they don’t score.”




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