East Bengal's Nigerian striker Chidi Edeh is one of many players who have plied their trade both in the Green and Maroon of Mohun Bagan and the Red and Gold of East Bengal. In fact it was Chidi who was the toast of the Mariners when he scored four goals in a remarkable 5-3 victory over their rivals in this fixture in 2009. Fast forward to the current day and he is yet again the focal point of his team's attack.
"It could be the turning point in East Bengal's championship battle," Chidi told The Times of India. "This is why the pressure is more on us than on Mohun Bagan. If we can beat them on Saturday, we will be 80 per cent certain of winning the title," he added.
East Bengal sit pretty on top of the I-League table with 39 points from 19 matches while the Mariners are reeling from the effects of the punishment meted out to them by the All India Football Federation (AIFF) for violating I-League rules during the first leg of this season's Kolkata Derby. The Green and Maroon then chose not to contest the second half of the match when their player Syed Rahim Nabi was injured when he was hit by a missile from the crowd.
This led to the Mariners being banned from the I-League till 2015 only to have this decision recalled and replaced with a hefty fine and points deduction. The club had to start from 0 points and so far have managed only 5 since their return on January 20, 2013 against Salgaocar FC.
An interesting fact here is that never in the Kolkata Derby's 88-year history have the two teams met in the league with such a huge points difference.
"This huge difference in points is quite unusual but will hold no significance on Saturday. Mohun Bagan have nothing to lose since they still have 12 games left in their survival battle. So they will have their chances to achieve their goal (survival) after Saturday, and thus, a draw might not upset them. But for us, it's a must win situation because we have just seven matches in hand," opined Chidi.
"If we want to win the title, we must beat them. You may call it pressure, but this is also a motivation for us," Chidi maintained after Thursdays practice session at the East Bengal ground.
Chidi also revealed that he watches videos of past derbies to understand his mistakes and rectifying them accordingly.
"I like this derby and relish the challenge more than the first one because this is going to be a clash between two full-strength sides. Whoever loses won't have any excuse," Chidi signed off.
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