Monday, January 25, 2016 Report by
East Bengal have managed to rake in 4 points from their first two encounters
Mohun Bagan and Kingfisher East Bengal clash at the Salt Lake Stadium in the season’s first I-League derby, in what promises to be a fierce encounter between two top contenders for the championship.
While the Mariners are sitting pretty at the top of the table, with six points from their first two games at home, East Bengal have managed to rake in 4 points from their first two encounters, which were away from home.
With speculation rife about East Bengal’s fourth foreigner, it is no comfort that even after formally announcing the signing of former French international, Bernard Mendy, the footballer still hasn’t reached Kolkata and will not be a part of the proceedings in the all important derby.
The 313th Kolkata Derby, which will be the 37th meeting between the two teams in the NFL/I-League era, does not hold much of a significance when it comes to I-League positions since the league has only just kicked off. However, it might set the path for the rest of the season for both the teams depending on the result on the fated day.
Sanjoy Sen said that even though he was not as experienced in derby encounters like his opposite number, Biswajit Bhattacharya, that wouldn’t be a factor come match day.
“Do you know the clubs which Jose Mourinho or Alex Ferguson played for,” asked the I-League winning manager.
Sen though was relieved as he hoped Balwant Singh would be fit to start in spite of his groin injury. That he has managed to assemble a strong squad is evident as he has Jeje Lalpekhlua who was on fire during the ISL, to call upon from the bench.
Sony Norde too has joined practice since the beginning of the week and Sen said he was impressed with the Haitians’ work effort, and would most likely partner Sony Norde on the wings on Saturday.
Luciano Sobrosa will helm the defense alongside the dependable Kingshuk Debnath while Debjit Majumder will be the rock in goal.
Biswajit Bhattacharya, meanwhile stressed on the need for a collective effort if they were to be triumphant.
“Look, it has to be a team performance irrespective of what match it is. Yes, we do analyse different players and make plans and strategies for them but at the end of the day, it has to be a collective effort,” said the gaffer.
Red and Golds marksman, Ranti Martins too said the unavailability of Mendy will not matter come derby day.
“It doesn’t matter. It depends on the way we play and the outcome on the game. We are 11 vs 11. We have to give more than 100 percent. I only know about my team. I only know that Mohun Bagan in good. We are good as well.”
Harmanjot Singh Khabra’s injury will, however, be a big blow for Bhattacharya and he might call on the services of veteran Shylo Malsawmtluanga in his place or employ youngster Abinash Ruidas in his place.
Narayan Das proves a welcome addition to the defense with Bello Rasaq partnering Arnab Mondal in the centre.
TP Rehenesh will be in goal, with Ranti Martins being supported upfront by the wily Do Dong Hyun.
While Mohun Bagan will want to forget their Calcutta Football League debacle where a Dong masterclass downed them 4-0, East Bengal too will like to go one up on the champions in order to prove their credentials.