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East Bengal will go to the Financial Capital with maximum points from their first sojourn in Goa

There is a saying in Hindi - The party is not over until the FAT LADY dances. I-League continues to remain the happy hunting ground for the poacher-in-chief Ranty Martins. And he started clocking his regular dose of scoring with the season opener.

For the record; the East Bengal will go to the Financial Capital with maximum points from their first sojourn in Goa. It took slightly over an hour to unlock the mystery of the bogey team - the Flaming Oranges. But once the flood gate opened; there was no stopping of the rampaging Red & Gold young guns. The final result: A well deserved 1-3 away win.

The team looked nervy in the first 10 minutes but held firm. In the second ten, the team settled down and started making foray into the opposition defense. There was an odd opening on either side, but it was a battle mostly locked in the middle third. And right at the half-hour mark came a re-run from last several seasons. Odafa Okolie with the ball, with Arnab in his side, found the delicate angle to pierce the back of Red & Gold net. In patches Robert and Samad were both found lacking, especially with the time they took to fall back after an overlap. That gap was exploited a few times and made the defense look vulnerable.

At lemon break, it was clear that the East Bengal game was lacking breadth and the wings were underutilized. Dong and Ranty were both suffocating in the middle with lack of balls and when the ball did arrive, they were outnumbered.

The critical substitutions were made at the hour mark. In came Sabeeth and Rafique, for Mama and Khabra, lending space to Ranty at the box; and moving Do Dong to the right wing. This started the wing play and Dong finally found the space to operate and the familiar bursts of speed from Jairu and Do Dong stretched the Orange defense to the limit. If there is any one in India, who has perfected the art of glancing header; it has to be Ranty Martins. In came the in-swinger from Dong that glided of Ranty’s head to settle into the back of the Orange net. Drawing level in an away game often sets the tail of the visitors on fire. East Bengal upped the tempo; and the Ranty-Sabeeth duo came close to putting the team ahead but for an inexplicable miss. On the other side of the field, Rehnesh brought a super save off Odafa. Amends of the horrific miss was made soon; as Ranty set Jairu up with a nice ball; whose powerful shot bulged the net for the second time. The assurance goal came a couple of minutes later, when Ranty won loose ball and set it past hapless Arindam for the third time. At the end of the game, a Odafa shot hit the woodwork and that summed the story of the game.

Rehnesh and Sehnaz both proved to be effective recruits post ISL. Rehnesh, in particular, looked extremely enterprising and assured. The wing-backs of the team needs improvement, an area that continue to remain a spot of bother. Belo will need a few more confidence gaining outings. Samad is the Cinderella-story of last 12 months, and has tremendous potential. But he will need careful handling, and should not be overly exposed. Khabra had a relatively quiet evening. Mama showed his class in some brilliant solo runs but fizzled out with lack of final finesse. Jairu and Dong were two different players in first hour and last 30 minutes. Ranty proved that his appetite remains the same; and as long as he gets the ball in his sweet spot, he will still put his name in score sheet.

Finally, this away win is probably the gift of enormous honest effort that the coaching team had put in. Like in some occasions earlier this season, it was again a come from behind win under difficult circumstance; which proves that this team will remain a fighter. They will fight till the end. All the Red & Gold team will need is solid backing from the fans - on and off the field; irrespective of the recruitment saga that continues.

 

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