December 4, 2021

ISL 2020-21: SC East Bengal’s lightweight attack can be a headache for Robbie Fowler

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The team is heavily dependent on Indian strike duo Jeje Lalpekhlua and Balwant Singh have not been in the best of forms of late…

East Bengal are set to make their Indian Super League (ISL) debut on November 27 as they take on arch-rivals ATK Mohun Bagan FC in their season opener.

The Red and Golds who were the last team to join India’s top tier league this season after the arrival of investors Shree Cement Limited have done a fairly decent job in assembling a competitive squad in a very short time.

The team management recruited some quality foreigners and have had to cherry-pick Indian players from the contingent which was recruited before the new investors came along. 

However, there are still areas that look a bit weak and might prove to be a problem during the season for East Bengal. One of those areas might well be the attack where the club seems to be short of enough quality options. 

East Bengal have signed experienced Indian strikers Jeje Lalpekhlua and Balwant Singh along with Girik Khosla. The four Indian forwards will be accompanied by Welsh forward Aaron Amadi-Holloway.

Jeje Lalpekhlua is coming back from an injury and hasn’t played in a competitive game in the ISL since February 28th, 2019. Since then, he has been recuperating and undergoing rehabilitation. Meanwhile, Balwant Singh only has one goal to show for his efforts in the colours of ATK. 

25-year-old Girik Khosla had earlier played just one match in the ISL during the 2018-19 season for NorthEast United FC and had appeared in seven I-League games for Punjab FC last season. 

The only other option left is Wales’ Aaron Amadi who hasn’t been among the goals of late. The forward who has spent most of his playing days in England and in the A-League last season has only scored a total of 14 league goals in a 10-year long career.

While Robbie Fowler’s side has a very strong backline and midfield, they seem a bit lightweight in the attack. The team will heavily depend on former Norwich City winger Anthony Pilkington for the goals this season. It has to be noted that Pilkington did score a brace in the only pre-season friendly match they played so far against Kerala Blasters which the Kolkata club won 3-1.

Fowler will be keen to see how his current forwards shape in the initial games. However, he has the option of bringing in a new striker since they have an overseas spot vacant in their squad., given that they have signed only six foreigners. 

If the player is a free agent, he can be added to the squad immediately and if he is contracted elsewhere, then Fowler might have to wait until January for reinforcements. At any rate, everything hinges on how Jeje, Balwant and Aaron Amadi perform in the initial few matches.