Hero ISL stars set to take centre stage in Kolkata derby
Hero I-League 2017 table-toppers East Bengal will be locking horns with arch rivals and second placed Mohun Bagan at the Kanchenjunga Stadium in Siliguri on Sunday. The Red and Gold brigade currently occupy top spot in the league with 19 points from seven games, while the Mariners trail them by three points having accumulated 16 points from their six matches so far. Both teams are unbeaten heading into the first Kolkata derby of the season.
With points as well as bragging rights up for grabs, Sunday’s encounter between the two Kolkata giants has all the ingredients for a blockbuster match with both teams replete with star players. Both East Bengal and Mohun Bagan have the meanest defences in the league thus far having conceded just thrice in their seven and six matches respectively.
Young shot-stopper TP Rehenesh (NorthEast United FC) has become a formidable presence between the sticks for East Bengal, while Hero Indian Super League 2016 winner with Atlético de Kolkata, Debjit Majumder offers a calming influence at the opposite end of the pitch.
East Bengal’s backline features the likes of Robin Gurung (NorthEast United FC), Narayan Das (FC Pune City), Anwar Ali (Mumbai City FC) and Rahul Bheke (FC Pune City), whereas Mohun Bagan have more options at the back in Pritam Kotal (Atlético de Kolkata), Prabir Das (Atlético de Kolkata), Kinshuk Debnath (Atlético de Kolkata), Anas Edathodika (Delhi Dynamos FC), Souvik Chakraborty (Delhi Dynamos FC), Eduardo Ferreira (FC Pune City) and Shouvik Ghosh (NorthEast United FC) - all in contention for starts.
Both Kolkata heavyweights are skippered by their midfield linchpins in Mehtab Hossain (Kerala Blasters FC) and Katsumi Yusa (NorthEast United FC). Hossain has been a mainstay in East Bengal’s midfield engine-room for years now, while Yusa has also grown familiar with the captain’s armband having led Mohun Bagan for more than a season now. Both outfits possess an abundance of firepower in midfield with the league leaders boasting the likes of Jackichand Singh (Mumbai City FC), Rowllin Borges (NorthEast United FC) and Atlético de Kolkata’s duo of Lalrindika Ralte and Abinash Ruidas at the centre of the park. Meanwhile, Pronay Halder (Mumbai City FC), Bikramjit Singh (Atlético de Kolkata), Sehnaj Singh (Mumbai City FC), Kean Lewis (Delhi Dynamos FC) and Sony Norde (Mumbai City FC) are just a few of the Mariners’ options in midfield.
Up front, both sides have plenty of attacking talent to wreak havoc on the opposition backline. Thongkhosiem Haopkip (Kerala Blasters FC) and Robin Singh (FC Goa) have found the back of the net for the Red and Gold Brigade once and twice respectively. Mohun Bagan’s leading scorers after the opening stages of the campaign are former FC Goa man Darryl Duffy (6 goals) and Chennaiyin FC’s Jeje Lalpekhlua (4 goals).
Looking at these top ISL names in the fray, fans can definitely rest assured that Sunday’s derby will be full of high-octane action.