Margoa: Bolstered by their win against HAL, Salgaocar would eye victory when they take on a spirited East Bengal on Thursday in the 12th round of the I-League, to be played at the Nehru Stadium.

Salgaocar have not done justice to the tag of defending champions as they have been inconsistent in the tournament so far.

The Goan side is placed at ninth place with 13 points and coach Karim Bencharifa would be looking for a couple of wins in the coming games to get back the confidence and keep themselves in hunt for the top five finish at the end of the first leg.

Salgaocar would start as underdogs as they have been left handicapped by the absence of defender, Luciano Somborosa, who is out due to double booking.

The team is also having few injuries concerns ahead of the crucial game.

"East Bengal are highly motivated side, who are playing well at the moment to place themselves at the second place with 23 points, one point behind leaders Dempo and we need to play at our best to pull up a win," said Bencherifa.

"My boys are playing well and creating lot of scoring chances but somehow have not been able to convert them into goals, which saw us end up with draws or losses," he added.

With the league coming close to half-way mark, East Bengal coach Trevor Morgan will be a happy man as his side is just a single point behind the leaders Dempo.

The coach, though, wants his team to stay close to the toppers with the second leg starting from January 10, 2012.

East Bengal will be looking to their influential striker, Tolgay Ozbey, who has put up consistent performance scoring nine goals to be the second highest scorer behind Ranty Martins (11), for yet another win.

He will be backed up by strong midfield, which comprises Penn Orji, Reisangmi Vashum, Naoba Singh and Mehatab Hussain.

(Agencies)