East Bengal FC played out a 2-2 draw against Mohun Bagan Super Giant in Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24’s first Kolkata Derby on Saturday. Despite taking the lead twice through Ajay Chhetri and Cleiton Silva’s strikes, the Red and Gold Brigade failed to get their first win against their arch-rivals in the ISL. However, following this draw, Carles Cuadrat’s men are now unbeaten in their last 11 matches in all competitions.

Chhetri, who got his first start in the ISL 2023–24 season for East Bengal FC, utilised his opportunity with both hands, as he had been pivotal in the midfield in the absence of Souvik Chakrabarty and Saul Crespo. With his quick feet, agility, smart vision, and positioning sense, Chhetri was instrumental in the centre of the pitch with Jose Antonio Pardo.

Notably, Chhetri scored his first goal for East Bengal FC in the highly intense match that handed his team an early lead against the Mariners. He shared his pleasure after scoring a goal in the Kolkata Derby in front of thousands of supporters. 

“Every footballer has a childhood dream to score in the Kolkata Derby in front of thousands of supporters,” delighted Chhetri told indiansuperleague.com.

“It’s a dream come true for me to score my first Kolkata Derby goal in front of sixty thousand (approximately) supporters. I could be happier if we got three points, but still satisfied with one point,” he continued.

The 24-year-old defensive midfielder though has his eyes set on the playoff round.

“We all played very well today but could not get the three points. We aim to qualify for the playoffs,” he said.

Souvik Chakrabarty missed the game against Mohun Bagan Super Giant due to suspension. Speaking on Chakrabarty’s replacement, East Bengal FC head coach Cuadrat had stated in the pre-match press conference, “I'm sure that the player that is going to play in that position (of Souvik Chakrabarty) is going to do our job."

Chhetri repaid his coach’s faith with his hard work and tireless performance on the pitch. 

“Whoever gets a chance to play in the match always tries to give his best, whether it is me or Souvik Chakrabarty. It’s our team bonding. We have a great team and will give our 100% to reach the playoffs,” he commented.

Chhetri heaped praise on Cuadrat for helping him and is now looking forward to returning to winning ways against NorthEast United FC.

“Coach Cuadrat is doing an incredible job. He utilises us in a very good way,” he said.

“We’ll go for three points in the next game. Hopefully, we will be in the playoffs and try to win another trophy for the club,” he concluded.