Bolstered by the signing of Nigerian forward Bright Enobakhare, struggling SC East Bengal will look to revamp their attack and secure their first win in the ISL when they face laggards Odisha FC in Vasco, Goa on Sunday. (More Football News)
In a battle between two bottom-rung teams, who are winless from seven matches, Robbie Fowler-coached SCEB appear favourites on paper and they would hope to overcome their attacking woes that have plagued the team so far.
In their maiden season in the top-tier ISL, the Red-and-Gold have been let down badly up front by the misfiring Indian duo of Balwant Singh and Jeje Lalpekhlua, while their foreign recruit Aaron Amadi-Holloway has struggled with fitness issues.
Ahead of their Sunday's clash against Odisha, East Bengal received a big boost with the signing of Enobakhare, the 22-year-old graduate from the Wolverhampton Wolves academy.
Matti Steinmann struck a brace against Chennaiyin in their previous match and Fowler would hope that he would form a good chemistry with the youngster while Jacques Maghoma and Anthony Pilkington initiate the moves.
SCEB have scored just five goals from seven matches and Fowler would hope that the Nigerian youngster's arrival solves the team's goal-scoring woes. With three points, they are just ahead of bottom-placed Odisha by one point in the 11-team table.
Odisha too have scored five goals, while their defense has also been vulnerable.
Fowler said the two teams had a similar struggle so far in the tournament, which will make it difficult to predict the outcome of the game.
"They've had a tough time, probably similar to us ... They've played good at times and faltered at times, giving goals away in silly areas or because of individual areas. We're probably very similar in our aspect, so it has the makings of a good game," he said.
"And we've seen many times in the league, any team can beat anyone. And it's up to both clubs now to get the three points. It's a case of we want it more. I know Odisha wants it (too) but whoever goes out and puts the best performance, will certainly take it."
SCEB have drawn three out of their previous four matches, scoring five goals in the last three, after failing to find the net in their first four games.
"The boys have done really well in the past couple of weeks and there are lots of positives," Fowler said.
SCEB have conceded 10 goals in the second half and Fowler will have to ensure that his side stays alert throughout the game against Odisha, who have scored four of their five goals after the break.
SCEB have yielded 13 goals, the most by any team, while Odisha have conceded 11 in addition to being the only side to register a clean sheet this season.
"I see a lot of similarities in ourselves," Odisha coach Baxter said, echoing Fowler's views.
"We have a very young team who need time on the field. They have a very new team who need time on the field. Their games have been close games, they have played well in periods of games, same as we have. They will be looking for that consistency, the same as we are."
In their previous match, Odisha squandered a lead against NorthEast United to settle for a thrilling 2-2 draw.
Odisha will expect Brazilian forward Marcelinho to come good as he would look to replace Manuel Onwu, while the likes of Steven Taylor, Jacob Tratt, Cole Alexander, Vinit Rai and Diego Mauricio will form the core of their team.
Match starts: 5pm.