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I-League & its Kolkata derby swansong

5:47 AM GMT+4 12/03/2020
Mohun Bagan East Bengal
The arch-rivals will be meeting for the final time in I-League on Sunday...

When Mohun Bagan and East Bengal lock horns on the ides of March, it will be for the final time that the two arch-rivals will be crossing their paths in the I-League

With Mohun Bagan set to join the Indian Super League (ISL) after joining hands with ATK, the Kolkata derby in its current format will never be played again. 

There could be a possibility that the Red and Gold brigade might join the ISL, but so far they have not ofund an invester yet. And even if East Bengal jump ship then it will kindle a new rivalry, as the merger will give Bagan a new identity.

The two sides have met 45 times since 1997 in the National Football League (NFL) and the I-League combined. The first match was played on January 6, 1998, at the Salt Lake Stadium where Mohun Bagan trounced East Bengal 2-1. 

Overall, East Bengal have won 17 times, whereas the Mariners have got the bragging rights on 15 occassions. The match ended in a draw in 13 encounters. 

Mohun Bagan put five past their cross-town rivals in 2009 courtesy of a poker from Edeh Chidi. His tally of four goals remains a record for the most goals scored by an individual in a Kolkata derby. 

Whereas, East Bengal boast of winning an I-League derby by the maximum margin of three goals. But it must be noted that Mohun Bagan gave a walkover after chaos broke out at the Salt Lake Stadium and hence, the three points were awarded to East Bengal.

With the league title already done and dusted the derby has lost much of its sheen. But there will be no shortage of fireworks on the pitch as both sides will want to finish on a high. 

If the two clubs end up playing in two different leagues, the only Kolkata derby will be in the Calcutta Football League which is normally held before India's domestic season starts.