Hero ISL stars eye impacting the second Kolkata derby of the season
The 2017 Hero I-League will witness its second Kolkata derby of the season when Mohun Bagan take on East Bengal at the Kanchenjunga Stadium in Siliguri on Sunday. After a 0-0 draw in their first meeting this season, expectations and anticipation are sky-high ahead of this encounter. Both sides are still in the title hunt with East Bengal currently three points behind league leaders Aizawl FC in second place having picked up 27 points from their 14 matches. However, Mohun Bagan, who trail East Bengal by one point having played a game less, will know that a win will be enough for them to leapfrog their city rivals and move to within a point of Aizawl.
Both the Kolkata heavyweights have a lot of talent within their ranks and will be looking to outdo each other when they lock horns on Sunday. East Bengal will be looking to vanquish memories of their 2-1 loss to Chennai City FC in their last outing. They will be hoping their target-man Robin Singh (FC Goa), who has netted four times for the Red and Gold Brigade and is their highest domestic scorer this season, will continue to exhibit the rich vein of form he has shown lately.
The likes of Robin Gurung (NorthEast United FC), Arnab Mondal (Atlético de Kolkata), Robert Lalthlamuana (Atlético de Kolkata) as well as FC Pune City’s full-back duo of Rahul Bheke and Narayan Das will have to be at the top of their game and on the same page as custodian TP Rehenesh (NorthEast United FC), if East Bengal are to contain a free-scoring Mohun Bagan outfit.
The Red and Gold Brigade also have a nice blend of youth and experience in the midfield areas with Mehtab Hossain (Kerala Blasters FC), Mohammed Rafique (Kerala Blasters FC) and Lalrindika Ralte (Atlético de Kolkata), all being veterans of this high-octane volatile fixture. Jackichand Singh, Abinash Ruidas, Romeo Fernandes and Rowllin Borges offers East Bengal different options in attack with their pace, trickery and passing qualities capable of unlocking even the tightest of defences.
Meanwhile, Mohun Bagan will be desperate to secure back-to-back wins in the league after putting on a clinic in their last outing, which saw them beat reigning champions Bengaluru FC 3-0. NorthEast United FC’s Katsumi Yusa bagged a brace against Bengaluru and will surely be looking to continue his goal-scoring form when he takes the field on the weekend. Another dangerman who Mohun Bagan fans will be hoping comes to the party this weekend is their pacey wideman Sony Norde.The Haitian winger contributed all three assists during their 3-0 triumph over Bengaluru and will be hoping to rise to the occasion again as he looks to add to his already burgeoning reputation as one of Mohun Bagan’s greatest ever foreign recruits. Their frontline boasts the likes of Balwant Singh, the first Indian goal-scorer in the Hero ISL with Chennaiyin FC, Jeje Lalpekhlua, the highest-scoring Indian in Hero ISL history and former FC Goa man Darryl Duffy, who is their top-scorer with seven goals this campaign.
At the opposite end of the pitch, the Mariners feature Hero ISL 2016 winners like Atlético de Kolkata’s goalkeeper Debjit Majumder, Prabir Das and Pritam Kotal to safeguard their goal. FC Pune City’s Eduardo Ferreira and Delhi Dynamos FC’s Anas Edathodika, who recently received a long overdue call-up to the national side, have also developed a good understanding amongst themselves to add more solidity to their backline. Souvik Chakraborty (Delhi Dynamos FC), Sehnaj Singh (Mumbai City FC) and Bikramjit Singh (Atlético de Kolkata) will further beef up Mohun Bagan’s midfield, thereby ensuring an all-action encounter between the two Kolkata giants with points and pride up for grabs.