A century-old odyssey is set to add yet another glorious chapter to its everlasting legacy as Mohun Bagan and East Bengal prepare to lock horns in the first Kolkata Derby of the 13th I-League season. All roads lead to the Saltlake Stadium with anticipation for yet another classic, which is slated for a 5pm kick-off and will be broadcast LIVE on DSport and Kolkata TV and streamed live on Fancode.
Mohun Bagan have been the team to beat in the I-League this season, with their solitary loss being against Churchill Brothers at the Kalyani Stadium, which dates back to December 8, 2019. Since then, the Mariners have forged a five-game unbeaten run, winning four on the trot and earning a draw against Punjab FC in their previous outing.
The Green and Maroons have been ticking all the right boxes as a unit, with young players like Nongdamba Naorem and Subho Ghosh stepping up big-time. The former has been instrumental on the left flank for Bagan with his deft touch and movement — both on and off the ball, while the latter has served as the perfect example for home-grown talents, rising to the occasion when needed the most.
With three goals, Subho is now the leading Indian goal-scorer in the league, thus giving the Mohun Bagan aficionados a brand new name to sing.
The tables have turned for East Bengal, and in total contrast to Mohun Bagan’s fortunes, the Red and Golds started the season on a brighter note, which saw them unbeaten and at the top of the table.
However, since the turn of the year, they have fallen prey to two consecutive defeats and now find themselves in fifth place, six points behind their archrivals, albeit with a game in hand.
The midfield battle between the two clubs will constitute an enticing affair. With the flamboyance of Juan Mera and the precision of Jaime Colado, East Bengal will remain hopeful that the two men can make a difference, which they are well and truly capable of. Mohun Bagan will be fighting fire with fire, with Fran Gonzales’ towering presence in midfield, next to Sheikh Sahil serving as the anchor, who has quietly had a great season so far. Joseba Beitia, in his first taste of the derby, will be looking to make his mark in grand fashion, on a grander stage.
Sharing his thoughts ahead of the match, Mohun Bagan head coach Kibu Vicuna said, “I think every derby is a special game. The dynamics of both teams are very different, but when a derby arrives, everything is more equal.”
“Not only East Bengal v Mohun Bagan, it applies to every derby in the world. Doesn’t matter if you are first or second or fourth. We are in a good mood, we are doing pretty well but the important thing is to remain focused.”
East Bengal head coach Alejandro Menendez Garcia remains calm despite recent results, and asserted, “I have full confidence in my squad. In these kinds of games, what has happened before isn’t crucial. How the teams arrive at the derby, doesn’t predict what will happen in the derby. We have had some issues along the season, injuries being one of them, but we are still confident. On Sunday, we are going to fight.”
Statistically, Mohun Bagan have the edge. They have scored the most goals in the league (12) and conceded the least (6), and they will be up against their rivals who have failed to register a single clean-sheet this term. In retrospect, not a single encounter between these two sides has ever been contested with numbers or on a piece of paper. Come Sunday, the only statistic that is going to matter will be the score-line on the top-left.