Federation Cup: Playing In Kolkata Will Give Us An Advantage In The Group Of Death - East Bengal Striker Baljit Sahni

The young striker spoke to Goal.com ahead of his side’s Federation Cup opener against Mohammedan Sporting.
Two-time defending champions East Bengal begin their 2011 Federation Cup campaign against local rivals Mohammedan Sporting later this Saturday evening. Pune FC and Dempo contest the other match of Group C, which is truly the group of death as three of the teams were in the top five in last season’s I-League.

East Bengal striker Baljit Singh Sahni believes that even Mohammedan Sporting can’t be taken lightly and that he and his teammates are eager to win their first competitive fixture of the new season.

“We are in a tough group as Pune FC and Dempo are strong teams but Mohammedan Sporting will also be difficult to beat so we can’t take anything for granted.

“The first game of any tournament is always very important so we are aiming to come up with a strong performance and make a winning start,” Baljit told Goal.com.

The Punjabi lad was away with the Indian national team squad during last season’s Federation Cup and so is yet to win the prestigious trophy.

After missing out on India’s West Indies tour due to injury, Baljit managed to have a proper pre-season with East Bengal unlike last season and so this term he intends to make an instant impact in the Fed Cup.

“Last season I joined the team in the second half of the season. I scored a few goals but it’s much better this time as I had a proper pre-season and as a result I have a much better understanding with my teammates.

Baljit Eager To Impress

“Federation Cup is one of the biggest tournaments in Indian football so I really want to win it. It is exciting for me personally but I have to remain calm and perform on the pitch.”

Baljit is likely to start upfront alongside Tolgay Ozbey against Mohammedan because of Robin Singh’s ankle injury.

The former JCT man admits that there is a lot of responsibility on him but opined that it is never nice to see a teammate get injured and that he always welcomes competition for places.

“I always try to keep myself ready. There will be a lot of expectations of me as fans want us to win every game and as far as the Federation Cup goes, we have the chance to make it a hat-trick of wins.

“If the coach picks me I will try to give my best and win the match for my team but an injury is never good for any side. Also it is always very important to have competition for places in the team as it brings the best out of you.”

The 24-year-old explained that being part of the Indian senior national setup has been a good learning experience for him and signed off by admitting that home advantage will give East Bengal an edge in the group stage.

“Being part of the Indian team helps a lot because I learn a lot as a player and it boosts my confidence also.

“Playing in Kolkata in front of our passionate fans could give us an advantage in this difficult group and hopefully we will make the most of it,” he concluded.

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