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The 24-year old midfielder relives the action-packed Kolkata derby where he scored from a Mehtab Hussain free-kick to give his side the lead.

Scoring in a derby game is always a special occasion for any player. Just ask Wayne Rooney which goal he would savour the most and he would most certainly say the ones that he had scored in the Manchester Derby. East Bengal's Harmanjot Khabra is another such player who has the honour of scoring for his side in a derby match. The 24-year old midfielder opened the scoring for his side in the eventful Kolkata derby on Sunday, the result of which lies in limbo as the All India Football Federation (AIFF) decides the punishment that Mohun Bagan will receive for not sending their players out for the second half.

Khabra scored from a glancing header as Mehtab Hussain whipped in his free-kick in the 42nd minute. "I have scored many goals but the one on Sunday against Mohun Bagan is certainly my best. It was my first goal in a Kolkata derby. What made it special is that it came in front of one lakh people who had packed the stands at the Salt Lake Stadium," Khabra told the Times of India.


Khabra opened the scoring in the Kolkata Derby on Sunday


The AIFF will award the abandoned match to East Bengal rendering Khabra's goal null and void. The midfielder however is not fussed about such a thing happening. "We wanted to win the match to maintain pressure on leaders Dempo SC in the title race. We were leading and hungry for more. It's unfortunate that the match was abandoned. A victory for the team is our priority, and if we are declared winners, I'll be as happy as anyone in the dressing room," said the 24-year old.

A natural winger, Khabra plays a modified holding midfield role to allow left-back Saumik Dey to make his runs forward and thereby ensuring defensive stability is not compromised. Such a system has seen the Red and Gold concede only 1 goal in 10 I-League matches.

"Our team is full of quality players and you have to win your place in the side on merit. I know if I fail to deliver, someone is ready to take my place and will be motivated to do better. That's the challenge our coach has set for each player," revealed Khabra

What has set the team from most of the rivals, according to the player, is their winning mentality.
"When we take the field, we always try to win the game, irrespective of name and reputation of our opponents. All credit to the coach for injecting this mentality into the side," he said.

East Bengal will next face Prayag United SC at the Salt Lake Stadium on December 16th. 

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