Karim Bencherifa's side head into the derby as the overwhelming underdogs. Can the injury-ridden Mariners upset the odds against Trevor Morgan's formidable unit?...
Naoba, Okpara, Mondal, Saumik Dey
N.Chettri, Khongjee, Wadoo, Nabi;
The Kolkata derby between East Bengal and Mohun Bagan is perhaps the game that displays the actual potential of growth for football in India.
Steeped in history and with crowds packed to the rafters, this clash between two of the most bitter rivals is easily the marquee clash of the I-League, no matter how the two teams are performing in the league.
If form was king, then East Bengal would walk away with the points tomorrow. Second on the table and unbeaten so far this campaign, with almost a full squad to choose from, odds are very much in favour of Trevor Morgan’s side.
The side’s success is built on a rock solid defense, which has collected one cleansheet after another this season, having being breached only once so far.
The Mariners shall rely on Odafa to break past a miserly East Bengal defense...
And it is perhaps the defense of the Red and Gold that shall decide how the game goes. If there is any player who knows how to break-down stubborn defenses on his own, then it is Odafa Okolie.
The Nigerian had scored in both the league encounters last season, and has continued to plough a lone furrow upfront for the Mariners this campaign as well. While most in his side have failed to impress, the most valuable player of the league has lived upto his billing.
Against Pune FC, he dragged his side to a draw, when the Mariners should have in all probability, been beaten by a much bigger margin.
Can Chidi Edeh repeat his 4 goal haul from 3 years back...this time in East Bengal's colours?
Chidi Edeh meanwhile has helped himself to six goals this season. However considering the number of chances East Bengal create, he should probably be challenging Ranti Martins for the golden boot, if it wasn’t for his profligacy infront of goal.
Edeh ofcourse has past history in the derby, having scored a record 4 goals in a game during his stint with Mohun Bagan, against the Red and Gold in 2009.
A similar performance on Sunday will definitely earn him cult status amongst his new followers. With the Mariners defense short on both, quality and numbers, it could possibly turn-out to be a clash between the two Nigerians, who lead the attack of their respective sides.
East Bengal – Trevor Morgan has almost the full roster to choose from, bar the absence of the injured Sanju Pradhan.
Mohun Bagan – Injuries are fast piling up for Karim Bencherifa’s side. Strikers Tolgay Ozbey and Anil Kumar, medio Manish Maithani, defenders Khelemba Singh and Ichezona Anyichie and goalkeeper Arindam Bhattacharya are all ruled out. Meanwhile Bencherifa will look to welcome back Aibor Khongjee and Syed Rahim Nabi to the side.a
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- East Bengal have recorded the highest margin of victory in derby duels when they defeated Mohun Bagan 5-0 in the 1975 I.F.A Shield final at Calcutta.
- 1997 Federation Cup Semi Final between East Bengal and Mohun Bagan drew the largest audience in Indian football. The match played in 13th July, 1997 at Salt Lake Stadium drew 1, 34,000 spectators. East Bengal won the match 4-1 with Bhaichung Bhutia scoring a hattrick, the very first in Derby clashes.
- East Bengal holds the record of four back to back wins in derby clashes of NFL/I League – winning home and away in both, the 2002-03 and 2003-04 season.
- In 30 League games so far, East Bengal have won 12, the Mariners took away the three points on 10 occasions, while 8 others ended in a stalemate.
- Bhaichung Bhutia with 19, leads Jose Barreto, who has 17, in the derby goal-scorers chart.
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