Winds of change, although not much strong yet, have started to blow in and around East Bengal. With a new sponsor, new administration, and a new face at the helm of the coaching, the once-giant of Indian football will hope to bounce back to winning ways with the new ISL 2022-23 season.
Last season performance (11th)
Erstwhile SC East Bengal had perhaps reached the depths of despair with the performance the team was doling out week in and week out. The side had the longest winless streak of 11 games, after which they tasted victory for the first time in the season against FC Goa in a 2-1 win.
Out of 20 matches, EB managed to win just the one game, drew eight, and lost on 11 occasions. This deplorable run of games meant that the Kolkata giants had to be content with a bottom-of-the-table finish.
About the manager
In July, prior to the start of the Durand Cup 2022, East Bengal roped in the services of Stephen Constantine as their head coach. A known face in and around Indian football, Constantine is slowly imbibing his ways into the historic club. He was the head coach of the Indian men's national team over two spells.
Constantine training with the players (Source: Twitter/ Stephen Constantine)
Last season, EB went through a phase of chopping and changing of coaches. The campaign started with Spaniard Manolo Diaz who got sacked in the middle of the season. Then former Indian international Renedy Singh took over the reigns for a couple of games. Finally, it was another Spaniard in Mario Rivera who saw off the poor season.
Constantine, on the other hand, showed his tactics and way of playing with a limited squad resources quite well in the Durand Cup. The 4-3 win over Mumbai City stands out from their cup campaign. It looks like the Englishman will set up his team in such a way that is hard for others to break down.
Incoming: Alex Lima (Free), Jordan O'Doherty (Free), Cleiton Silva (Free), Charalampos Kyriacou (Free), Ivan Gonzalez (Free), Jerry Lalrinzuala (Free), Mobashir Rahman (Free), Sarthak Golui (Free), Sumeet Passi (Free), Mohamad Rakip (Free), Pawan Kumar (Free), Pritam Singh (Free), Nabi Khan (Free), Aditya Patra (Free), Mahitosh Roy (Free), Tuhin Das (Free), VP Suhair, Kamaljit Singh, Aniket Jadhav, Souvik Chakrabarti, Lalchungnunga (Loan), Himanshu Jangra (Loan), Naveen Kumar (Loan), Eliandro.
Outgoing: Franjo Prce, Arindam Bhattacharya, Fran Sota, Hira Mondal, Mohammed Rafique, Sourav Das, Sankar Roy, Lalrinliana Hnamte, Songpu Singsit, Loken Meitei, Rahul Paswan, Antonio Perosevic.
- The club now has an experienced coach who knows how he wants to play. Moreover, the Durand Cup and the upcoming Calcutta Football League will have provided ample amount of games as pre-season to try different things out.
- Defense looks quite solid and impenetrable. The likes of Gonzalez, Lalchungnunga, and Kyriacou stood their ground in the back four in the Durand Cup. They can be key players in this long season.
- Cleiton Silva might just turn out to be their most important player. Having played in the ISL before, the forward will bring in the experience and finishing touches.
- Lack of squad depth. If you look at the best XI of the team, you won't find suitable replacements for many on the bench. This might sting East Bengal in the long run in the event of suspensions and injuries.
- Dearth of creativity in the midfield can be a big miss. While new signing Jordan O'doherty certainly fits the bill of the playmaker, there is no backup for him. The 'four foreigner' rule might limit Constantine's line-up choices in this regard.
(Subject to change)
Goalkeeper: Pawan Kumar, Kamaljit Singh, Naveen Kumar.
Defenders: Sarthak Golui, Mohd. Rakip, Ivan Gonzalez, Charalambos Kyriacou, Ankit Mukherjee, Tuhin Das, Lalchungnunga, Jerry Lalrinzuala, Pritam Kumar Singh, Nabi Hussain Khan.
Midfielders: Amarjit Singh Kiyam, Angousana Wahengbam, Alex Lima, Souvik Chakaraborty, Jordan O' Doherty, Mohd Mobashir Rahman.
Forwards: Himanshu Jangra, Sumit Passi, Eliandro, Cleiton Silva, Semboi Haokip, Mahesh Singh Naorem, VP Suhair, Aniket Jadhav.