Bhubaneswar, April 16: It is advantage East Bengal as they take on a depleted FC Goa in the Hero Super Cup's first semifinal at the Kalinga Stadium here on Monday (April 16).
As many as five main Goa players are missing out due to suspension after the ill-tempered quarterfinal clash against Jamshedpur FC.
However, East Bengal who beat Aizawl 1-0 en route to reaching the semifinals, should be taking nothing for granted as coach Khalid Jamil has dismissed talk about the Kolkata club having an advantage over the Goan outfit , stressing "it's 11v11 on the field."
Reacting to comments about five Goa players staying suspended for the match, Jamil stated: "In football it's all played on the turf. You can never take things lightly. It's all about that specific day," he stressed. "FC Goa are a very good side and they will surely make it difficult for us."
Central defender Eduardo Ferreira, however, admitted that there is "some pressure" on the red and golds.
"Every match is important and comes with its own pressure. It's not going to be any different," said Ferreira.
"If you want to be successful you need to work hard and press harder all throughout. We won't be taking it easy in training. It's another final for us. We need to stay concentrated."
Jamil, who was a player under Goa coach Derrick Pereira in the dream Mahindra United squad, rated his former coach very highly. "Derrick is a great motivator. His teams are always defensively very strong," Jamil certified.
Meanwhile, Pereira informed that his players "will put up their best".
With Bruno Pinheiro and Sergio Juste both suspended, Ali Mohammed and Chinglensana Singh will be expected to deputise for them.
Pronay Halder and Edu Bedia were instrumental in helping the Gaurs come away with wins in both their matches so far. With Pronay picking up a second yellow in consecutive games, he along with Hugo Boumous will miss the semifinals. In his absence, Pratesh Shirodkar will take the field along side Edu Bedia.
"We've five players suspended and there are also some injuries which have hit us hard. We have 14 players at the moment including two goalkeepers and a lot of things are going on in my mind," Pereira stated.
"I'm confident that whoever takes the field will give their best. We have had a very good team throughout the season. If you need to achieve results you need to perform," he added.
"Obviously, the understanding and combination play on the pitch may be lacking as some of them may be playing for the first time. But we have trained together for long. The players are all professionals and know how to react to situations. East Bengal have a full squad but it won't be easy for them."
Reiterating his coach's views, Shirodkar, said, "We accept this challenge. All the players who haven't played so far are confident and we'll work hard for a victory."
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