Players who can influence the Kolkata derby in a big way
Match 99 of Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2020-21 will witness ATK Mohun Bagan squaring off against SC East Bengal in the Kolkata derby at the Fatorda Stadium on Friday. The Mariners are on top of the standings, while the Red and Gold Brigade are out of the semis reckoning. Both sides find themselves on opposite ends of the table but form tends to go out of the window when these two teams clash. With plenty of match-winners in both sides, Friday’s clash between the teams promises to be an exciting encounter and here we look at a few players who can alter the outcome of the biggest game in Indian football.
The Fijian striker has been the driving force behind ATK Mohun Bagan’s title challenge this season. Roy Krishna is both the Mariners’ and the league’s top-scorer at the moment with 13 goals and he will be keen to add to that tally when he faces SC East Bengal having already netted against them earlier in the campaign. Quite often the difference in a game, eight of Krishna’s 13 goals have come in winning causes and needless to say, he will be ATK Mohun Bagan’s biggest threat as he targets finding the net for a sixth successive game.
Matti Steinmann has been the standout player for SC East Bengal this season. Even though he’s a defensive midfielder by trade, Steinmann has proven to be much more than that. The German midfielder has diligently fulfilled his defensive duties beside also contributing more than what was expected of him in attack. With four goals and three assists, Steinmann tops both the goal-scoring and assists charts for his club. He will be up against ATK Mohun Bagan’s Lenny Rodrigues in a midfield battle and that will have a big say on the outcome of the contest.
Manvir Singh has been among ATK Mohun Bagan’s most impressive domestic talents. The Indian striker has impressed for the Mariners since signing for them ahead of the ongoing campaign and will head into Friday’s Kolkata derby with fond memories of scoring against SC East Bengal during ATK Mohun Bagan’s 2-0 win earlier in the season. Since then Manvir has been one of ATK Mohun Bagan’s most potent domestic talents going forward and he has four goals as well as three assists – most by a player from his team – to show for his efforts.
Bright Enobakhare made a huge impact for SC East Bengal ever since he joined the club during the winter transfer window. The Nigerian attacker announced himself to the Hero ISL with a splendid solo goal that’s a contender for goal of the season. He has scored three times and provided one assist for SC East Bengal so far but will be raring to make a statement for his team on derby day. Blessed with quick feet and a bag of tricks on the ball, Bright can make himself a cult hero for the club with a strong performance against ATK Mohun Bagan and you can rest assured that he’s relishing the challenge.
Marcelo Pereira’s loan acquisition by ATK Mohun Bagan from Odisha FC during the winter transfer window certainly added an attacking edge to the team. He seems to have had a transformative effect on the team since joining the club and that’s visible when ATK Mohun Bagan attack with the Brazilian in the side. He’s netted twice since joining the club, including a stunning freekick and will be keen to make his mark for the team on derby day. Despite notching up plenty of goals as well as assists with the several Hero ISL clubs in the past, making a difference in a Kolkata derby is something that Marcelo will want to be remembered for.
While Anthony Pilkington may not have always been at his best for SC East Bengal this season, the Irishman has looked dangerous in his last two games and has a goal and an assist to show from these outings. Pilkington has scored twice as well as provided two assists for SC East Bengal so far and he will be eager to end the season with the club on a high. An underwhelming start to the season with the club meant that he’s managed to create just 11 chances for his teammates so far. However, there’s no doubting his ability and his recent upturn in form isn’t something that will be welcomed by ATK Mohun Bagan.