The two rivals face each other in Siliguri to decide CFL winner 2017.
The big festival of ‘Durga Puja’ is just a few days away and amidst the festive fever Indian football’s two biggest giants face each other in Siliguri for the season’s first derby which will decide this year’s CFL champions.
East Bengal will start a bit ahead in this match as they just need a draw courtesy a better goal difference to be crowned champions for the eighth consecutive time and thrice being unbeaten champions. On the flip side, arch-rivals Mohun Bagan have to win this match to bring the glory of the CFL back to their tent after a long gap of seven years.
The Red and Gold coach Khalid Jamil for whom this derby will be the maiden one after sitting on the hotseat of East Bengal coach is also very excited about this match. He said, “This is one of the toughest matches of my career in East Bengal and I hope everything will go well tomorrow. This is a new challenge for me, they are a very good side and we are not taking them lightly.”
Khalid Jamil is not going to change much with the squad which thrashed Tollygunge Agragami 5-0 in the penultimate game of East Bengal. He only needs to decide between the trio of Arnab Mondal, Gurwinder Singh and Mitchell. The duo of Arnab and Gurwinder jelled very well in the last game which Mitchell could not make due to illness. Two more changes for the Red and Gold brigade may be Gabriel Fernandes and Tonmoy Gjosh making way for Joby Justin and Samad Ali Mallick respectively.
The Green and Maroon coach Shankarlal Chakraborty will do a reshuffling of the squad which played against Peerless in a 2-1 victory. Ricky Lallawamwa and Arijit Bagui will replace Gurjinder Kumar and Debabrata Roy in the wing back positions and captain Kinshuk Debnath will replace Bikramjit Singh in the centre-back position whereas Mohun Bagan’s midfield general this CFL Shilton D’Silva is fully fit after a long injury lay-off. He has been in-and-out of the side but will start tomorrow to partner Raynier Fernandes in the central midfield position.
On the eve of the match, East Bengal had a two hour training session at the Kanchenjunga Stadium turf in the morning to get accustomed to it. It was seen that Jamil emphasised more on set-pieces and solving the defensive lapses which East Bengal had in the last few games resulted them conceding silly goals. Jamil had a long chat with his three pillarsinf defense- Arnab, Gurwinder and Mitchell. In the pre-match press conference, Jamil had addressed the East Bengal fans as the 12th man of the team. He said, “I just want to tell them to come in numbers tomorrow to support the team. They are the 12th man for the team and we need their support to win the match.”
On the flip-side, Mohun Bagan’s major concern was organising their midfield and defense which got reshuffled few times in the last few games with card issues and injury concerns. Shankarlal was giving stress on how to block Mahmoud Al-Amna who has been instrumental for the Red and Gold in supplying balls as well as scoring and helping others to score. Shankarlal wants to use Shilton D’Silva to block Amna and break the string between Amna and the forwards. He feels if Amna is blocked then the job is half-done for the team.
Ahead of the match the Bagan gaffer looked with a bit of concern at the Siliguri pitch as the grass on it was long and hard. Regarding this issue he said, “ I have asked the ground-staff to cut it a little bit shorter so that it gets easier to get the ball to roll on. Regarding the match, he had kept East Bengal ahead of them. “Obviously, they are starting much ahead than us. They have so many good players. I have asked my boys to win and nothing else and my aim is nothing different”, Shankarlal concluded.