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Mohun Bagan v East Bengal

Kolkata Derby: Mohun Bagan and East Bengal coaches disagree with Igor Stimac

15:32 IST 30/08/2019
Kolkata derby pre match press conference
Kibu Vicuna and Alejandro Menendez were not of the same opinion with the national team coach regarding the number of foreign players in India...

The most famous rivalry in Indian football, the Kolkata derby - between Mohun Bagan and East Bengal has been contested for nearly a century now. On Sunday however, it will be the first time both sides are helmed by Spanish coaches.

It will be a derby debut for Kibu Vicuna (Mohun Bagan) who challenges Alejandro Menendez (East Bengal), looking to complete a hat-trick of wins over the  Green and Maroons , his first in the regional Calcutta Football League (CFL).

Speaking in the pre-match press conference, both coaches were asked to react on comments made by Igor Stimac, the head coach of the Indian national men's team. The Croat had complained that the number of foreigners plying their trade in Indian clubs were a tad too many.

"There are too many foreign players in the Indian Super League (ISL) and I-League. We need to change this. We need to start a new process. We need to speed and adopt the three plus one (rule) which is an accepted idea of foreign policy best for Asian countries," Stimac told The Times of India .

Both the ISL and the I-League allow a maximum of five foreigners in the XI at any given point of time in a game. However, the ISL allows a club to register a maximum of seven foreigners, while the I-League, in which both Mohun Bagan and East Bengal play in, allow only six to be registered in the squad.

Mohun Bagan coach Kibu Vicuna begged to differ. "I don't know why Igor Stimac said that. For me, the foreign players are very important to improve the Indian players.

"The Indian players can see how to perform technically and tactically. They can learn how to perform in every game. I think good foreigners are important for Indian football," Vicuna expressed.

Alejandro Menendez, who arrived at East Bengal last year promised to develop local talent and the emergence of players like Jobby Justin (now at ATK) and Manoj Mohammed, from the East Bengal academy, have been a testament to the work put in by the former Real Madrid Castilla manager.

"This rule helps fifty percent. The other fifty percent is about what happens throughout the year. If you want to improve young players you have to help them throughout the year and not just during the match.

"You have to support them and take care of them. You have to build a sporting culture. Of course, foreign players also help them improve," opined Menendez.

Interestingly, CFL regulations only allow a maximum of three foreigners in the XI. Also, no player from either Mohun Bagan or East Bengal have made it to the national team squad to face Oman and Qatar in the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers next week.