Kolkata: East Bengal and Mohun Bagan will aim to get off to a winning start, when the two face off in a much anticipated Kolkata Derby at the Yuba Bharati Krirangan Stadium, in Kolkata on Sunday. Both the sides began their campaign with a 1-1 and 2-2 draw against Minerva and Aizwal respectively, but will hope for a first win in the 21st derby of the competition.
Interestingly, with both the Indian Super League and the I-League running simultaneously, three teams from the city, vis a vis – ATK, East Bengal and Mohun Bagan have been permitted to use the iconic YBKS and on Sunday it will be the Mariners as the home team, with East Bengal given just over 5000 tickets for the away supporters.
But the biggest advantage for the Mariners is their coach Sanjoy Sen, who is yet to lose a single home match against new East Bengal gaffer Khalid Jamil. Past records however is not a concern for the 56-year-old, who hopes to create another on Sunday.
“I don’t live in the past. I believe this will be a crucial game for both sides. Thus league is about points and I am guessing they too won’t like to drop any.” said the Bagan gaffer ahead of the match.
Cautioning his boys about not repeating the same mistakes they committed against Minerva, Sanjoy added that win is their only objective again the arch-rivals. “The first match, you can be excused but if you continue this in the upcoming games, you will suffer”, warned Sen.
“You cannot tell the players that we want to go for a draw. We will go for a win. If we fail to win, a draw won’t be bad. But, any point is important in the league as we have failed to regain the title in the last two seasons. You have to respect the opponents but we are not underdogs”, he added.
The derby however seems to have come too early in the season for the players, who would have hoped to get into the groove before the all important match. With so may young faces in both the teams, many will be experiencing the intriguing atmosphere for the first time and among them is last season’s I-League winning coach Khalid Jamil who for the first time will be part of the famous Kolkata Derby in the competetion.
“Both teams have experience. Both sides have quality players and their coach is good and have good foreigners. Both their defense and attack is strong. We have to be alert. We must complete the game and cannot take them lightly. We have to control the things from the start to the end. You have to be patient and have a hold on mental and physical,” he said while talking of his team’s chances in the match.
Bagan however have Sony Norde and Dipanada Dicka, both of whom played in the league last season and are aware of the atmosphere. But refusing to have any specific plans for the two, the former Aizwal gaffer added, “Sony Norde is a good player and so is Aser Pierrick Dipanda. If we score early goals, we have to sit on it.”
Interestingly, Katsumi Yusa was the Bagan captain last season, but will be playing in a Red and Gold Brigade Jersey this time and so will Eduardo Ferreira who played for Bagan in the past. While this will be their first derby as an East Bengal player both are looking forward to it as just another match.
The derby has never been short of entertainment, with many calling it as a game that decides careers. The 319th Kolkata Derby may well go on to uplift a few careers, while also end some as it has always been the norm.