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Depleted Goa look to preserve unbeaten run, face East Bengal (Match Preview 75)

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Margao (Goa), Jan 28 (IANS) A depleted FC Goa will be looking to continue their six-match unbeaten run in the Indian Super League (ISL) when they face East Bengal at the Fatorda Stadium on Friday.

Goa will be without their two first-choice centre backs during the match. While Ivan Gonzalez was sent off in the 1-1 draw against Kerala Blasters, James Donachie sustained an injury during the match and has been ruled out.

Additionally, Goa will also be without their coach Juan Ferrando on the touchline after the Spaniard was suspended against Kerala. However, the absentees are not a concern for assistant coach Clifford Miranda who feels Goa are heading in the right direction.

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“The most important thing about this team during this period (unbeaten run) is the adaptation to the new coach,” he said. “From ones (that were there) to the players that he got, it’s never easy. Step by step, we are moving towards our objective and the way the coach wants the team to play.”

The last time these two sides met, 10-man SCEB held Goa to a 1-1 draw and the highlight of the game was Bright Enobakhare’s stunning solo goal. The Nigerian has since then made a major impact in all games, despite Robbie Fowler’s side netting the least goals this season (11). But that doesn’t mean Goa will be focusing on Bright alone.

“He is a good player, there’s no doubt about it and has improved SC East Bengal since his arrival but there’s no such plan to stop one player because if we start concentrating on him, there are 9 other outfield players who can hurt us,” said Miranda. “We will play the way we play.”

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East Bengal will be keen to bounce back after seeing their seven-match unbeaten streak ended by leaders Mumbai City FC. Despite ending on the losing side, the Kolkata side dominated possession and was alive in the game right until the end. With Goa’s key players absent, SCEB assistant coach Tony Grant believes they can certainly fancy their chances against their in-form opponents.

“It’s certainly an opportunity (to get back to winning ways),” said the former Everton and Man City midfielder. “This season we lost our captain (Danny Fox) early on and it doesn’t help. Every team is gonna hurt when you lose two of your better players.”

It remains to be seen if India defender Adil Khan, on-loan from Hyderabad FC does make his debut for the Gaurs. Adil’s teammate from his parent club, Arjuna awardee Subrata Paul, brought in with a similar agreement, is in line to make his red and gold homecoming after 12 long years.

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–IANS

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