New Delhi, Jan 7 (IANS) Two years ago, ONGC halted East Bengal's unbeaten streak with a 1-0 win in the I-League. Stung by that defeat, East Bengal faltered and Salgaocar went on to win the title. It is to be seen if history can repeat itself when the two teams meet at the Ambedkar stadium here Tuesday.
ONGC has lost just once in their eight home matches here and that was two months ago to Air India. They have beaten Dempo 3-1, Shillong Lajong 3-0, Pailan Arrows 3-1 and held fancied Prayag United 1-1. However, their next opponents Federation Cup champions East Bengal are one of the best teams in the country. They have lost both their two previous matches to the Kolkata-based club.
ONGC lost 1-2 in the 34th Federation Cup group league match in Siliguri and were trounced 0-5 in their 7th round I-League match Nov 24. East Bengal is on 27 points from 13 matches and third in the league table while ONGC with 13 points from the same number of matches are in eighth position.
It will be an uphill task for ONGC as they will also be without their ace Liberian forward Eric P. Brown, who was shown a red card in the previous match. East Bengal has the best defence in the league and have conceded just five goals in 13 matches.
ONGC's main threat will be from the skilful Japanese attacking midfielder Yusa Katsumi. Coach Santosh Kashyap says his team will rely on quick counter attacks and their aim is to prevent conceding an early goal and frustrate East Bengal.
It is in midfield that East Bengal enjoy overwhelming superiority due to the penetrative runs of Penn Orji and the able blocking and passing of Mehtab Hussain. On the flanks, coach Trevor Morgan can choose from Ishfaq Ahmed, Sanju Pradhan, Harmanjot Khabra or Lalrindika Ralte.