How far can East Bengal go in their debut Indian Super League season?
SC East Bengal's best finish: National Football League Champions (2000-01, 2002-03, 2003-04), ASEAN Club Championship (2003), Coca-Cola Cup Champions (1985-86)
Other Trophies: 29-time IFA Shield winners, 16-time Durand Cup Champions, 10-time Rovers Cup Champions, 8 time Federation Cup Champions, 3 time Indian Super Cup Champions
SC East Bengal's coach: Robbie Fowler
SC East Bengal are one of the most iconic clubs in Indian Football history and we can understand that when we take a look at their trophy cabinet. However, they won their last major trophy back in 2012. Since then, they haven't been able to do justice to their legacy.
Even though they won the IFA shield in 2018, they failed to lift the I-League trophy. But they would be eager to restore their lost glory as they enter a new chapter in their history this season with their maiden appearance in the Indian Super League.
How did East Bengal fare in the last season?
East Bengal continued their trophy-less run even in the I-League 2019-20 season. They did finish at the second position in the I-League though. But they had a huge gap of 16 points between them and champions Mohun Bagan.
In the Durand Cup, they did well to reach the semifinals but had to bow out of the competition after losing to Gokulam FC on penalties. East Bengal couldn't take the top honours in the regional Calcutta Football League as well. They finished third with 20 points with Mohun Bagan and Peerless finishing ahead in the top two. However, the squad has undergone a complete revamp now and they would be hopeful of much better returns from this ISL season.
SC East Bengal squad for ISL 2020-21 season
SC East Bengal have undergone a complete makeover, starting right from the owners to the players. Shree Cement acquired 76% shares of the club and it was also renamed to Sporting Club East Bengal from East Bengal FC earlier in August this year. Former England international Robbie Fowler has been named as the head coach for this season as well.
The changes don't end there as they have gone on to hire the services of top overseas players like Anthony Pilkington, Daniel Fox and Scott Nevile among others. Fowler and co. will be banking upon these players to bring some much-needed quality to the club.
As far as Indian players go, they are not short of quality in that department either. Indian midfielder Eugeneson Lyngdoh brings some much-needed experience and quality to their midfield. Managing his fitness will be a challenge though. Jeje Lalpekhlua hasn't been at his best in the last couple of seasons but Fowler will want to bring the best out of the Indian striker again. Bikash Jairu also adds some much-needed flair and pace in the wings whereas Narayan Das is going to be a vital cog of their defence as well.
All in all, the roster looks quite strong on paper and everything will depend on how well they are able to translate their potential on the field.
Goalkeepers: Debjit Majumder, Sankar Roy, Rafique Ali Sardar, Mirshad Michu
Defenders: Daniel Fox, Scott Neville, Samad Ali Mallick, Abhishek Ambekar, Narayan Das, Mohammad Irshad, Gurtej Singh, Rohen Singh, Lalramchullova, Rana Gharami, Anil Chawan, Novin Gurung, Pritam Kumar Singh
Midfielders: Matti Steinmann, Jacques Maghoma, Eugeneson Lyngdoh, Wahengbam Angousana, Bikash Jairu, Yumnam Singh, Surchandra Singh, Loken Meiti, Mohammed Rafique, Milan Singh, Haobam Tomba Singh, Anthony Pilkington, Sehnaj Singh
Forwards: Aaron Amadi-Holloway, Balwant Singh, Jeje Lalpheklua, Girik Khosla, C. K. Vineeth, Harmanpreet Singh
SC East Bengal predictions for ISL 2020-21
Fowler has good resources and players at his disposal but bringing the squad together in such a short span of time is going to be quite challenging for him. It takes quite some time to choose the best XI from such a big roster of players and bringing synchronization, and cohesion, between those players, is far more challenging. So it would be a bit too much to expect immediate results from East Bengal in their maiden ISL season. Fans need to be a bit patient and have to allow Fowler, and the other players, to get accustomed with the nitty-gritty of Indian Football.
Feature image courtesy: Twitter / @sc_eastbengal