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The two Kolkatan rivals take on each other this Sunday at the Salt Lake Stadium, Goal.com is here to select the best talent from the two teams....

 Ayush Srivastava
 Feature | I-League
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Undoubtedly the pick of the weekend’s I-League matches sees bitter rivals East Bengal and Mohun Bagan go head to head in the Kolkatan derby.

Both the sides have a glorious and successful  history, but in recent times have found it tough going in the league.

However this season, East Bengal are yet to be beaten, and are second on the table, while their arch-rivals are stuck in mid-table mediocrity, going through another transitional period.

They do though, have a team that, atleast on paper, is a match for that of the Red and Gold. But who would make the combined XI, if all the players were fit and available for selection? Goal.com is here to reveal all!

GOALKEEPER

Both the teams have had to shuffle their pack in-between the sticks, due to injuries and loss of form. However on form and ability, the tussle for the gloves should be directly in-between Arindam Bhattacharya and Gurpreet Singh Sandhu.

While the latter has impressed on occasions this season, he still has a few rough edges in his game, which need to be worked on. Therefore, Arindam Bhattacharya, who has more experience and has over-taken Gurpreet in the national side’s pecking order, would pip the former Indian Arrows custodian to a place in this star-studded XI.

DEFENDERS

With their stupendous defensive record of having conceded just a solitary goal this season, Trevor Morgan’s side are expected to dominate this section. However having settled on a ultra-offensive 3-4-1-2, we go for a trio of centre-backs here.

Uga Okpara walks into this team without a debate, as not only between these two sides, but even in the league, he has few equals.

Arnab Mondal has slotted in seamlessly alongside Okpara for East Bengal this season, and his aerial presence and positional sense have complimented his defensive partner well. Having seen off Gurwinder Singh and Raju Gaikwad’s challenge for a starting berth, he is more than worthy of a place in a combined eleven.

Aibor Khongjee has been the surprise package at Mohun Bagan, being a lone bright spot in an otherwise shambolic defense of the Mariners. Not expected to be anything more than a back-up this season, he has come up leaps and bounds as the campaign has progressed, and won’t be out of place in any line-up with his present form.

MIDFIELDERS

Harmanjot Khabra might not be as big a name as those mentioned above and set to follow below, but he has been a vital cog in the Red and Gold’s efficient machine this season, with his work-rate and consistency being perhaps underrated by fans. However Trevor Morgan certainly cannot be accused of the same folly.

Syed Rahim Nabi has been utilized on the right flank by the Mariners this season, and he has still shown flashes of his brilliance there. While injuries have hampered his campaign, his attacking vigour and defensive sturdiness down the wing sees him coast in comfortably into this combined XI.

Mehtab Hussain – The midfield dynamo has shown how important a defensive midfielder can be to a team’s overall set-up. He has been tireless in the middle of the park, snuffing out any counterattacks made by the opposition, while keeping possession ticking along for his side.

Denson Devadas has often been left ploughing the lone furrow in midfield for the Mariners this season. However the former Prayag United midfielder has impressed with his passing and tackling abilities in midfield, and alongside Mehtab Hussain, would provide a solid platform in the middle of the park, for the more offensive players to bomb forward.

Penn Orji perhaps has few equals in his position in the Indian circuit. With a brilliant passing range and vision, coupled with fantastic skills on the ball, the midfielder has been often making the difference for Trevor Morgan’s side this season, by producing several goal-scoring chances for his forwards.

FORWARDS

Tolgay Ozbey has missed most of the season due to an injury, something that has really infuriated the Mariners faithful. However the Red and Gold fans would also concede that a fit and in-form Tolgay would be an asset for any team. His creativity and goals have surely been missed by Mohun Bagan.

No prizes for guessing who rounds up this attack. It is unfortunate that Odafa Okolie has not really had a chance to link-up with his Australian team-mate for too long this season, as the Nigerian would certainly have been an even more potent striker, if Ozbey could have been there to supply the ammunition. Even without him, Odafa has continued in the same vein as last season, dragging Mohun Bagan along single-handedly.

Suggested combined East Bengal & Mohun Bagan XI

Goalkeeper

Arindam Bhattacharya

LEFT CENTRE-BACK
CENTRE-BACK
RIGHT CENTRE-BACK

Aibor Khongjee

Uga Okpara

Arnab Mondal

 

RIGHT WINGER
CENTRAL MIDFIELDER
CENTRAL MIDFIELDER
LEFT WINGER

Syed Rahim Nabi

Denson Devadas

Mehtab Hussain

Harmanjot Khabra

Attacking Midfielder

Penn Orji


FORWARD
FORWARD

Tolgay Ozbey

Odafa Okolie

In addition to the eleven players we have picked, we also choose the combined best XI based on the players available for selection foor Sunday's derby.

Combined fit XI (3-4-3) - Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Aibor Khongjee, Arnab Mondal, Uga Okpara, Ishfaq Ahmed, Harmanjot Khabra, Denson Devadas, Mehtab Hussain, Penn Orji, Odafa Okolie, Chidi Edeh

 

Do YOU agree with our combined XI? Let us know by commenting below......

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