The Kolkata giants prepare to lock horns in a game where pride is at stake for both sides.
The first Indian Super League (ISL) season in the history of ATK Mohun Bagan and SC East Bengal has gone in very different directions. When they meet in the reverse fixture of the Kolkata Derby, they’ll both be chasing different priorities.
The Mariners are looking to protect their place at the top of the table. Meanwhile, the Red and Gold seek to hinder their AFC Champions League dreams. Irrespective of the contrasting situations or forms of both teams, that all goes out the window in time for a Kolkata Derby. Only the team which is hungrier and mentally stronger will prevail.
ATK Mohun Bagan seem to have hit their stride at the perfect time in the ISL, but consistency is key for them to snatch the ACL spot for themselves next season. Last term, Antonio Habas saw his erstwhile ATK side surrender an opportunity to end the league stages on the first position. This time, he wouldn’t want history to repeat itself.
The Mariners will obviously want to win this for their fans and prove who truly is the better Kolkata side. But, a big win will also be a statement of intent about their ambitions and pile even more pressure on Mumbai City. A loss or draw could however reinvigorate the Islanders to come back in the race for the top spot.
SC East Bengal have no chance to qualify for the ISL playoffs anymore, but they will be playing for pride. At times, when a wounded lion is playing for pride, it can be the most dangerous. The Red and Gold will want to prove that they shouldn’t be written off and will aim to outplay their rivals to get their biggest win of the season so far.
East Bengal also have the extra incentive to dent the Mariners’ ACL dreams. Robbie Fowler’s side know that another can win can erase the mediocre, disappointing tag on their season – so they’ll be fighting extra hard to get a win in the derby.
ATK Mohun Bagan are likely to miss influential midfielder Edu Garcia for the game, while Michael Soosairaj and Jobby Justin remain long-term absentees.
Scott Neville and Sourav Das remain doubtful for SC East Bengal after not being included in the matchday squad for the game against Hyderabad FC.
These two rivals have only faced each other once so far in the ISL, when ATK Mohun Bagan reigned supreme with a 2-0 win over SC East Bengal.
ATK Mohun Bagan: Arindam; Kotal, Jhingan, Tiri, Bose;, Lenny, McHugh, Hernandez, Manvir, Marcelinho; Krishna
SC East Bengal: Subrata; Gaikwad, Golui, Fox, Das; Ankit, Steinmann, Luwang, Pilkington, Maghoma; Enobakhare
Players to Watch
Roy Krishna (ATK Mohun Bagan)
The ISL top scorer has seven goals in the last five games heading into the match against SC East Bengal and will be salivating at the thought of bypassing their vulnerable backline.
The Fijian has all the confidence in the world and is at his most dangerous right now. With his impeccable movement around the final third and deadly finishing ability, Krishna will be a major thorn at the side of the Red and Gold and is very likely to be at the heart of whatever good the Mariners do on Friday.
Bright Enobakhare (SC East Bengal)
If ATK Mohun Bagan have Krishna leading their line, SC East Bengal also have a very bright attacker. The former Wolves man has been the brightest spark in Robbie Fowler’s attack this season and produced some extremely memorable moments with his dribbling ability and tendency to pull off the extraordinary.
Coming off after having scored a brilliant goal against Hyderabad FC, the Nigerian is in great form. He’ll look to take on ATKMB’s sturdy defenders and test them to their limit with his movement. Enobakhare might be playing his first-ever Kolkata Derby on Friday, but his ability to excel in the biggest games could help him create a lot of joy for East Bengal supporters.
Did You know?
- Bright Enobakhare has successfully completed 40 dribbles this season, the second-most for any player in the ISL.
- Arindam Bhattacharya has conceded one goal every 153 minutes for ATK Mohun Bagan, keeping 10 clean sheets for them.
- Roy Krishna has scored in his last five successive appearances for ATK Mohun Bagan.
The match between ATK Mohun Bagan and SC East Bengal is set to be telecast live on Star Sports 1 SD & HD, Star Sports 2 SD & HD (English), Star Sports Hindi 1 SD & HD, Star Sports 3 and several other regional languages. Live streaming of the match will be available on Hotstar and Jio TV.