Mohun Bagan Super Giant head coach Antonio Lopez Habas is aiming to secure all three points when they lock horns with East Bengal FC in the Indian Super League (ISL) at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata on Sunday.

The Mariners have remained unbeaten since coming under Habas's guidance in the league. Currently sitting third on the league table, a victory against the Red and Gold Brigade could see the Green and Maroon side level with league leaders Mumbai City FC at 36 points with a game in hand.

On the other hand, East Bengal FC enter the match fresh from a defeat against FC Goa, putting their playoff chances in serious jeopardy.

In this highly anticipated clash in Indian domestic football, both teams will go all out to achieve their respective goals.

This encounter marks the fifth meeting between the two Kolkata teams this season, having faced off twice in the Durand Cup 2023, once in the Kalinga Super Cup 2024, and once in the ISL 2023-24 season. East Bengal FC seem to have the edge, winning two of those encounters and drawing one, with Mohun Bagan SG’s sole victory coming in the Durand Cup final.

While Habas has never been defeated in the Kolkata Derby, the head coach doesn’t want to be overly confident about this match. Instead, he aims to approach the pitch with the same level of focus and determination as any other match.

We have no confidence that we will surely win. Confidence kills the main competition. As I always say about the derby, we have to see it as another match in the competition. It's just one more match for us to gain three points and continue. Jumping for the first position is out of the question, as it depends on the opponent," stated Habas in the pre-match press conference.

He added, "Evidently, I know that they have a good presence in Kolkata and in the ISL, but we are calm and focused on the target, aiming to finish it tomorrow."

Under the former head coach Juan Ferrando, the Mariners experienced three consecutive defeats, concluding the year 2023 against Mumbai City FC, FC Goa, and Kerala Blasters FC. Since Habas took over as the head coach, there has been a notable improvement in the team's performance, keeping them unbeaten in the league this season.

When asked about potential changes in the team's performance, the Spanish tactician commented, “Evidently, there is always a desire for change. Changing the coach is a means to bring about this change. It's clear now that the decision has been beneficial, as the team is no longer losing matches and is in contention for the top position on the league table."

Crediting his players for the unbeaten run in the second half of the season, the 66-year-old shared, “I am very pleased with the performance of all the players on the team because one thing holds great significance for me, and that is commitment. They exhibit a strong commitment and have a clear, precise objective."

Unlike the other fixtures in the league, the Kolkata Derby will have a late kick-off at 8:30 PM.

Despite the change in timing, the Spaniard urged supporters to come in numbers and back them from the stands, “We need the supporters because football without supporters is not football.”

Midfielder Sahal Abdul Samad was excluded from the squad in their last match against Jamshedpur FC.

Expecting him to return on Sunday and providing an update on Deepak Tangri’s suspension, the head coach said, “He (Sahal) had a little problem, but now is recovering, and he's perfectly fine. We have all squared, with the possibility for him to play. Now I have to choose what is the first 11, only Tangri (will miss the game),”

I am enjoying my football: Dimitri Petratos

Australian forward Dimitri Petratos accompanied the head coach to the press conference. The 31-year-old has solidified his role as an instrumental figure in the Mariners' attacking front, having scored seven goals and provided one assist so far this season.

Sharing insights into how he feels playing under Habas and responding to whether he is transitioning from a number nine player to a number ten player, Petratos commented, “I'm enjoying my football. I'm trying to do my best, what the coach needs and what the team needs, and, yeah, not necessarily too much difference (between the two roles), in terms of my position. But, the coach believes in me, and I think I'm doing my best on the field.”

Petratos doesn’t intend to underestimate East Bengal FC and believes that his team is more focused on getting things right on their end than dwelling on their opponent’s form.

“It is never easy (to score against any opponent). You cannot take anything lightly. But the main focus is we are focusing on ourselves. Getting our things right and going out there as a team and doing our best to win the game,” he stated.