East Bengal FC will be hoping to keep their qualification hopes alive in the ongoing Durand Cup 2023 when they clash against Mohun Bagan Super Giant in the season’s first Kolkata Derby at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan, in Kolkata, on Saturday.

Mohun Bagan SG have already secured their place in the knockout stages of the tournament after victories over Bangladesh Army Football Team and Punjab FC. Meanwhile, East Bengal FC are in hunt for their first win after being held to a 2-2 draw by the Bangladesh Army Football Team.

In what is a must-win contest, Carles Cuadrat’s side will be aiming to make the most of their chances against the Mariners and secure the three points. Cuadrat called for his side to be ruthless with regards to converting their chances.

“We know they are a powerful team. They are preparing for the AFC Cup later this month. There are also the ISL champions and we know that and we are also bringing new players but we have a full new team. We have players like Mandar (Dessai) who are experienced in playing big games. We will punish them when we have the chance,” Cuadrat said in the pre-match press conference.

With the pressure of qualifying for the knockout rounds off their back, Ferrando could hand a rest to some of his players who started the previous game. However, the importance of this fixture is still the same for the Spaniard.

“Yeah of course (there is pressure), it’s an important match here in Kolkata. In the last two seasons, I know the feelings and emotions of our supporters. I’m so happy to be involved in these games. We know it’s a very important match and we’re focused to work like a team, game by game and day by day do our best to win every match, ” Ferrando stated in the pre-match press conference.

The sides previously met at the tournament last year, where Mohun Bagan SG prevailed 1-0.

FC Goa and NorthEast United FC look to build momentum in high-stake clash

Two in-form sides will square off at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati on Saturday with FC Goa taking on NorthEast United FC. Both sides, having won their opening games by big margins, will look to go one step further and boost their chances of making it to the knockout stages with another win.

The Gaurs rode on a Noah Sadaoui hat-trick as they overpowered Shillong Lajong FC 6-0. NorthEast United FC, also beat Lajong FC in comprehensive fashion, registering a 4-0 win as Parthib Gogoi starred with a hat-trick.

“We’ll take on a strong opponent once again in NorthEast United, and we’ll try to do what the Coach says so that we play well and win again,” Sadaoui stated.

“We are aiming at qualifying for the knockouts and winning the Durand Cup, but the bigger objective is to continue improving both individually and as a team, going towards the ISL,” he added.