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Gazi and Bengal ready for element of the unknown against Ilford in FA Cup

PUBLISHED: 15:00 09 August 2018

Action from the Essex Senior League derby between Tower Hamlets (orange) and Sporting Bengal United (blue) last season (pic: Tim Edwards).

Action from the Essex Senior League derby between Tower Hamlets (orange) and Sporting Bengal United (blue) last season (pic: Tim Edwards).

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The Mile End Stadium club will aim to earn their first win of the campaign on Saturday

Imrul Gazi is not sure what to expect when Sporting Bengal United host Ilford in the extra preliminary round of the FA Cup this Saturday.

The two clubs are rivals in the Essex Senior League, but the Foxes have had big changes this summer with previous joint-managers Allan Fenn and Billy Cove moving on and Martin Haywood taking over first-team matters.

Gazi, who will not be able to attend Saturday’s fixture, has not seen much activity from the local club over the last few months, but is confident his team can progress and pocket £2,250 in prize money.

“I haven’t heard anything about Ilford this summer, they seem very quiet and I have not heard anything about any major signings,” said Gazi.

“So, I am not sure where they are at and don’t know much about the management team over there now.

“From my perspective, it is about really playing teams as they come and getting to know more about them as we go along.

“Unfortunately I will not be around for the FA Cup tie, but my assistant Ayas (Ali) will be and hopefully we will have a very strong side available.”

Bengal had to wait a little longer than most to get the new campaign underway with their opener on Monday.

Gazi’s side travelled to local rivals Barkingside and put in a solid display to come away with a point after a stalemate at Cricklefield Stadium.

It was an encouraging way for Bengal to begin the new season and boosts confidence ahead of Saturday’s crucial FA Cup tie.

The east Londoners have worked hard over the summer to keep the majority of their squad in place and Gazi is confident they can do well again this campaign.

He does, however, remain on the look out for some more recruits to boost the depth he has at his disposal if they are to kick on from last season’s 10th-place finish.

“For me it is always about who we retain and it looks like we have kept hold of the majority of the squad I have built over the last two seasons,” said Gazi.

“Now I am just looking to strengthen when it comes to our depth because if there was a weak link last season, it was when one or two of our first-team players were not available, so that’s the aim.”

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