May the best team win, says Sourav Ganguly ahead of Kolkata derby
The first-ever Kolkata derby of the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) featuring two new-entrants ATK Mohun Bagan and SC East Bengal is just hours away, and ATK Mohun Bagan co-owner Sourav Ganguly feels it’s a momentous occasion for the league.
“It's going to be huge for Hero ISL. I'm extremely happy that both of them are playing the derby for the first time, it'll add a lot of eyeballs to the Hero ISL. I'm extremely happy for the league because I've been a part of this league. After winning the title three times with ATK FC, this new club ATK Mohun Bagan hopefully will be even more popular. So it's going to be a big game, and I wish it was in Kolkata,” Ganguly told indiansuperleague.com ahead of the mouth-watering contest.
The 2020-21 Hero ISL is being played behind closed doors and Friday’s game will be staged at the Tilak Maidan Stadium in Vasco, Goa. Ganguly continued: “The pandemic has forced all of us to have it in one city, but when they come back to West Bengal next year you will actually realize how big it is. I'm looking forward to watching it on TV and it’s going to be a hugely followed game.”
Though Ganguly made a career in cricket and served India with distinction, his love for football is no secret. Reminiscing about his first memories of a Kolkata derby, Ganguly said: “My first derby was when I was 13 or 14 years of age. My father took me to Eden Gardens in Kolkata as the derby happened there and it's unreal. Not one seat goes empty. People are so attached to the red and gold and the maroon and green. People have supported these two clubs for a long period of time. So it's going to be a super match. The emotion will be high, and everyone will find out what SC East Bengal and ATK Mohun Bagan bring to the Hero ISL.”
Ganguly is clear as to what he expects from his team, emphasising how important it is to win the first-ever Kolkata derby in league history from an ATKMB point of view. “Let’s win it! This is the first time that I will be involved in an ATK Mohun Bagan and SC East Bengal game. When I grew up, I've seen it from the stands as a fan, but now I’m actually involved with one of the teams. So, a bit more attachment [with ATKMB], and as I said, ATK Mohun Bagan go for it. The first one will always be remembered and hopefully the ATK Mohun Bagan supporters will always say that the first derby was ours. So good luck to both the teams and may the best team win,” he said.