Who said what ahead of the historic Kolkata derby in Hero ISL 2020-21

The first-ever Kolkata derby in the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) is at last upon us with new entrants ATK Mohun Bagan and SC East Bengal set to ablaze the league at the Tilak Maidan Stadium in Vasco on Friday. Antonio Lopez Habas’ ATK Mohun Bagan are coming into the game on the back of a win against Kerala Blasters FC in what was also the 2020-21 Hero ISL opener. However, Robbie Fowler’s SC East Bengal will take the field for the first time in their debut season. The footballing fraternity in India is abuzz ahead of the encounter, and experts - be it former footballers or current footballers or coaches – have already started voicing their opinions on various media platforms. Let’s see who has said what hours before the historic game gets underway.

Bhaichung Bhutia, former India captain, who has played for both Mohun Bagan and East Bengal

There will be pressure on both clubs to win not only the derby but also the league. When you play for either of the clubs, the only demand from them is to win and to be champions, nothing less than that. The pressure and the expectations will be huge on both clubs.

Jose Barreto, former Mohun Bagan striker

Since this is the first derby in Hero ISL, it will be important for the fans and the club. But the pressure on the players will be less [as it’s being played behind closed doors]. For the second derby, things will be a little different since they will know the response from the supporters and media."

Sourav Ganguly, ATK Mohun Bagan co-owner

It's for the first time that ATK Mohun Bagan will play in the Hero ISL. I hope we have a good season. I'm a big supporter of our coach. I think he's got the passion and heart to win the ISL. He has won it a couple of times already.

Subhash Bhowmick, former coach at both East Bengal and Mohun Bagan    

Fowler has to prove himself as a coach. I don't think he has won any major silverware. But as a striker, he was one of the best. He has to win trophies to prove himself.

ATK Mohun Bagan defender Tiri

I have been in India for 6 years and I have seen the derbies on television, it will be incredible to be able to experience it!  I think it will be something incredible. To be able to play a derby is always nice! This year will be different without our fans but a derby is a derby and you have to give 100% as in every match.

Trevor James Morgan, former East Bengal coach

ATK Mohun Bagan have a settled squad and have been together for a while. They know each other's game and will be difficult opposition for East Bengal.

Cameron Watson, former Bengaluru FC and Mohun Bagan star, warns ATKMB of Scott Neville

It’s very hard to stop him. If he finds space, he is kind of unstoppable. Really tough to hold him back. He can attack from the right flank by continuous overlapping.

ATK Mohun Bagan defender Sandesh Jhingan

I've never had the chance to watch a Kolkata derby live at the stadium. It's one of the biggest derbies in the world. As footballers, you want to be a part of such big games on big stages, so I'm looking forward to it. The derby has a rich history and its roots run deep in Indian football. Now, hopefully, I get a chance to be part of it.

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