New Delhi: Kolkata giants East Bengal would look to maintain their winning streak and remain among the top three when they take on ONGC in a potential banana skin match of the I-League at Ambedkar stadium here Tuesday.
Federation Cup winners East Bengal are high on confidence after their 4-1 thrashing of defending champions Salgaocar in an away match last Saturday, days after drubbing Pailan Arrows 3-0. They are third in the table with 27 points from 13, matches -- a point less than Churchill Brothers and Pune FC -- though the Kolkata side had played one match more.
East Bengal toyed with ONGC in their first-leg match in Kolkata last November with a 5-0 victory but at home, the oilmen have produced strong performances and it is unlikely that Santosh Kashyap's men would give in without a fight.
ONGC, on 13 points from as many matches, have lost just once in their eight home matches, and that was two months ago to Air India. They have beaten Dempo 3-1, Shillong Lajong 3-0, Pailan Arrows 3-1 and held Prayag United 1-1. ONGC, however, suffered a jolt as they will be without their Liberian forward Eric P Brown, who was shown a red card in their previous match.
East Bengal have the best defence in the league and have conceded just five goals in 13 matches. Their solidly built Nigerian defender Uga Okpara has been combining well with Arnab Mondal and, due to their powerful tackles and good interceptions, are difficult to penetrate. Both are also commanding in the air.
ONGC's main threat will be from Japanese attacking midfielder Yusa Katsumi. In the midfield, East Bengal enjoy overwhelming superiority due to the penetrative runs of Penn Orji and the able blocking and passing of Mehtab Hussain. On the flanks coach Trevor Morgan can choose from Ishfaq Ahmed, Sanju Pradhan, Harmanjot Khabra or Lalrindika Ralte.
East Bengal's Nigerian striker Chidi Edeh has been in rampaging form, having scored a hat-trick in the 4-1 rout of Salgaocar, and he is the second highest scorer in the league with 10 goals.