ISL 20-21: Will SC East Bengal's torch burn bright in their debut season?
- SC East Bengal entered the ISL as the eleventh and the final team for the 2020-21 season
- They roped in Liverpool legend Robbie Fowler as their head coach
- Anthony Pilkington, Danny Fox and Jeje Lalpekhlua will be the key players for SCEB
For every fan from the 'Red and Gold' side of Kolkata, September 27 became a momentous day as SC East Bengal, aided by their newly acquired investors Shree Cement, galloped into the Indian Super League (ISL) as the eleventh and the final team for the 2020-21 season.
Owing to their late dash, SCEB were pressed for time building up a formidable lineup for their debut season while other teams were already fitting in the final pieces.
However, the club has done quite a job as they roped in a high-profile coach in Liverpool legend Robbie Fowler. This was a clear signal of their intent and then the Red and Gold brigade backed it up by landing an enviable backroom staff -- including Anthony Grant, Terence McPhillips and Renedy Singh.
While Fowler might not have had much of a say when it comes to the signing of the Indian contingent, East Bengal have sneakily snapped in quite a few players who could turn out to be crucial. The likes of Jeje Lalpekhlua, Eugeneson Lyngdoh, Balwant Singh, Narayan Das and Bikash Jairu have extensive ISL experience.
However, when it comes to the foreigners, Fowler has handpicked them with utmost care. SCEB signed former Norwich City winger Anthony Pilkington, Danny Fox from Wigan Athletic and wide player Jacques Maghoma from Birmingham City. The ex-Brisbane Roar coach also brought defender Scott Neville and forward Aaron Amadi-Holloway from his former club.
Meanwhile, German midfielder Matti Steinmann has played against Fowler’s Brisbane Roar donning the Wellington Phoenix kits.
Among the key players for SCEB is the former English Premier League winger Anthony Pilkington, arguably one of the most high-profile signings of this season's ISL.
The 32-year-old is two-footed and expect the Irishman to open up defences with his pace and agility.
Former Nottingham Forest centre-back Danny Fox could also prove to be an invaluable acquisition for the Red and Gold brigade. The 34-year-old will add stability to what is seemingly a weak backline.
He has played in Britain throughout his career and he will be hard as a nail going up against formidable attackers.
Striker Jeje Lalpekhlua is surely the most prominent name among SCEB's Indian recruitments. An ISL veteran, Jeje has spend five seasons with Chennaiyin FC.
The two-time ISL champion is no stranger to finding the back of the net and is the league's second-highest Indian goal scorer (23).
On the second look, the Kolkata outfit might not seem to have the most lethal striking option and that's where Jeje will have to glue himself in.
He has missed a good season and a half owing to his injury and his match fitness remains a concern, however, if the 29-year-old can find his goal-scoring boots then East Bengal fans will be left licking their lips.
In their opening fixture on November 27, SC East Bengal will take on city-rivals ATK Mohun Bagan in one of the fiercest derbies in world football.
SC East Bengal Squad:
Goalkeepers: Debjit Majumder, Sankar Roy, Mirshad Michu, Rafique Ali
Defenders: Samad Mallick, Abhishek Ambekar, Daniel Fox, Scott Neville, Narayan Das, Mohamad Irshad, Gurtej Singh, N Rohen Singh, Lalramchullova, Rana Gharami, Anil Chawan
Midfielders: Sehnaj Singh, Matti Steinmann, Jacques Maghoma, Eugeneson Lyngdoh, Wahengbam Luwang, Bikash Jairu, Yumnam Singh, Surchandra Singh, Loken Meitei, Mohammed Rafique, Aaron Amadi-Holloway, Anthony Pilkington, Milan Singh, Haobam Singh
Forwards: Balwant Singh, Jeje Lalpekhlua, CK Vineeth, Girik Khosla, Harmanpreet Singh