East Bengal’s ISL Journey Ends with Defeat to Punjab FC

East Bengal’s quest for a playoff berth in the 2023-24 Indian Super League season came to an end on Wednesday night. A 1-4 defeat to Punjab FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi brought the curtain down on their campaign.

The visitors, Punjab FC, playing their inaugural ISL season, started the match with a clear attacking intent. Their early pressure paid off, as they found the back of the net in the 19th minute via Jordan Gil. East Bengal, needing a win to keep their playoff hopes alive, responded positively.

Just 6 minutes later, Sayan Banerjee scored his first goal for the Red and Gold cutting in from the right wing and curling one past the Punjab Keeper to set up a mouth watering second half.

However, Madih Talal reclaimed the lead for the home side in the 43rd minute leaving the Red and Gold in a tricky situation at the break.

Needing a turnaround Coach Cuadrat was forced into playing a high line and looking to create chances on the other end to get back in the game.

However, goals from Jordan Gil and Luka in the 63rd and 70th minute respectively, cemented the tie in Punjab’s favor.

The final whistle brought a sense of disappointment for the East Bengal faithful who had hoped for a stronger finish. Despite the setback, there were positive takeaways for East Bengal.

Young players such as Aman, Vishnu, Sayan, Mahitosh, Jesin were given valuable playing time, and the team showed glimpses of promise throughout the season.

“I feel disappointed for the supporters and the people who love the club. But we have been fighting until the last game of the season, trying to reach the playoffs, and we were very close to getting it,” Coach Carles commented after the match.

“We came here (to East Bengal FC) with the idea of changing a lot of things. Because the dynamics were very negative in the last couple of seasons. So, generally, we are happy, we can see that it has been an evolution, lots of things happening, and the best season for the club in the ISL.

We fought for trophies after a long —four to five years. We reached the cup finals.

We qualified for the Asian competition. We have been making lots of young players join the first team and preparing players for the future,” he explained.

“We are in the moment of rebirth, and we are going to make plans for the next season, and after this season’s experience, we have to build a squad that can take us to the playoffs and keep us fighting for trophies,” he signed off.

Looking ahead, East Bengal will now turn their focus to the upcoming season which begins with the club’s return to the continental stage.