East Bengal look to end Mohun Bagan's winning form at home and continue coach Morgan's unbeaten derby record. Bagan look to seize the opportunity to close the gap on Dempo...
Surkumar, Debnath, Zeleny, Dhanarajan
Nabi, Barreto, Jewel, Snehashish
Naoba, Nirmal, Okpara, Robert
Vashum, Suhsant,Penn, Sanju
The season's first Kolkata Derby is finally upon us. With the city's two biggest clubs East Bengal and Mohun Bagan ready to lock horns, this promises a fascinating encounter, bolstered by the fact that more than one lakh and twenty thousand fans will be cheering both teams on at the Yuba Bharati Krirangan, packed to the gills.
The Derby is a thing from another planet, with season form and table positions all thrown out of the window. It is all about the passion, the passion which is buyoyed by supporters who cheer on their players and expect nothing but a win, and that too a comfortable one!
Mohun Bagan enjoy a slender edge of 2 points over East Bengal but technical director Subrata Bhattacharya has vowed to go all out to earn the three points with Mohun Bagan deemed as the home team for this encounter. And they need the win to keep pace with runaway leaders Dempo.
Prasanta Banerjee looks to welcome back the marksman Odafa Okolie and Snehashish Chakraborty to the first team. Daniel Zeleny, the new Australian central defender has been registered on time and looks to make his debut. And what a debut that is against Bagan's fierce rivals.
Bagan will miss the services of India defender, Anwar Ali though who picked up an injury on India duty against Malaysia. Also missing will be Brazilian winger, Hudson Lima.
Trevor Morgan however has to do without star striker Tolgay Ozebe who misses out after being suspended. The ever dependable Mehtab Hussain also looks set to miss out due to injury. However Penn Orji's spectacular form at the heart of East Bengal's midfield and Sanju Pradhan's darting runs are a plus for East Bengal going into the derby. The supporters will look to Alan Gow and Robin Singh for getting them the goals.
The match is being billed as Mohun Bagan's star studded forward line led by I-League's all time top scorer Odafa and India boy Sunil Chhetri, who is in scinitillating form against East Bengal's miserly defense marshaled by the pillar of strength - Uga Okpara.
East Bengal may fail to capitalize on Mohun Bagan's suspect defense with newcomer Daniel Zeleny making his debut in the all important match, due to them missing goal machine Tolgay upfront. Robin Singh who hasn't got much of a look around this season and Alan Gow who looks disappointing from open play, may dent East Bengal's chances against a frail Mohun Bagan defense with a bungling and nervy Sangram Mukherjee at the goal.
On the flipside Odafa Okolie is coming back from injury and is not looking as sharp as he was in the preceding I-League seasons where he had set the goal-scoring charts on fire.
All in all, it looks to be a mouth watering clash between two of India's most famous clubs. And also a tactical contest between Subrata and Morgan. Who will prevail?
|| DID YOU KNOW?
- Mohun Bagan are undefeated at home in the I-League this season, having won all three games they played at the Salt Lake Stadium.
- East Bengal's coach Trevor James Morgan also is unbeaten in derby encounters having won 4 of his 5 derbies.
- Bhaichung Bhutia holds the record of scoring the most number of goals in derbies in the I-League and NFL with 6. In the current squad, Mohun Bagan's Rahim Nabi with 4 is the top scorer.
- The two teams have met a massive 298 times with East Bengal having a noticeable edge with 112 derby wins to Mohun Bagan's 83.
- In the I-League/NFL encounters too, East Bengal have performed better than their rivals having won 12 to Bagan's 9 from 28 encounters.
- The highest victory margin recorded in derby matches was also by East Bengal when they thrashed Mohun Bagan 5-0 in the 1975 IFA Shield Final. Mohun Bagan downed East Bengal 5-3 under Karim Bencherifa a couple of seasons back.