I-League: Dheeraj-less Arrows aim to overcome leaders East Bengal

File Photo : Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem
IANS|01-Jan-2018 17:52

New Delhi, Jan 1 : Indian Arrows, devoid of the services of their star goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem, will face a stern test against the I-League leaders and Kolkata football giants at the Ambedkar Stadium here on Tuesday.

The 17-year-old Manipuri's contract with the development squad of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) expired on December 31.

The debutant side Arrows, who have accumulated mere seven points from six outings to sit seventh on the I-League table, will have to produce something extraordinary to hold or get past East Bengal who sit on top of the table with 14 points. 

However, the coaches of both sides had different perspectives on the star goalkeeper Dheeraj opting to not participate further in the upcoming fixtures. 

   |Read more : " I-League: Matos upset with Dheeraj pursuing European opportunities "

"Dheeraj (Singh) is an excellent goalkeeper and not having to face him tomorrow will be a huge advantage for us. But still it will be a tough match for us," East Bengal head coach Khalid Jamil said during the pre-match press conference. 

Indian Arrows coach Luís Norton de Matos said: "I have a different philosophy, we play collective football. For me, one goalkeeper, one midfielder, one attacker is not important. We are focused to play as an unit."

The East Bengal coach later heaped praise on the youngest side of the league -- Indian Arrows and said they have improved a lot since the U-17 World Cup. He also said the colts look a more confident unit now. 

"The Indian Arrows are playing good football ranging from the goalkeepers to the forwards 

"There is a lot of confidence and they play as a unit on the field. It is evident that they are hungry and we are not taking them lightly,

"We are playing an away fixture with a good young team who have played excellently in their last two matches. We acknowledge the fact that the Indian Arrows are a genuine threat for us," Jamil said. 

Jamil, also said his star attacking midfielder Katsumi Yusa is fit for the upcoming match while there is still a decision to be take on Willis Plaza.

"Katsumi has trained today, he is fit to be picked up. About Plaza, we still have to wait till Tuesday to take a final call," Jamil said. 

Matos said East Bengal are an organised side and we are aware of the threat from them. 

"East Bengal are a very good and organised team. The coach Khalid Jamil is a very good coach and they have many players which are very difficult to stop in the final third," he said.

"I expect a very hard game for us, but we are prepared for it. We are going to play to win and we will play to our maximum tomorrow as well against East Bengal," Matos said.