Since the loss in the reverse fixture, the Red and Gold have gone on to become title contenders whereas the Mariners have slipped down the standings.
With the highly awaited Kolkata Derby edging closer every hour, the stakes are high for both sides as they go head-to-head for the second time this season in I-league.
East Bengal who are currently sitting at the third position in the league table will be looking to take three points from this fixture so that they can keep pace with the high-flying Minerva Punjab. Whereas Mohun Bagan who currently sit in the sixth spot are looking to spoil the party for their fierce rivals.
So, regarding the importance of the fixture, East Bengal gaffer Khalid Jamil addressed the media in the pre-match conference saying that his team will approach this game like the other matches in the league. “it is a very crucial match and we are preparing ourselves like that,” Khalid said. “We have lost our last match against Mohun Bagan, so by no means are we taking them lightly and from here every game is like do-or-die for us.”
He had high regard for Mohun Bagan’s skilful striker Akram Moghrabi and has said that his team is ready to take up any challenge. Jamil also denies all tags of being inconsistent as he thinks that it is a long league and a few draws in away matches is not a bad result for any team.
Issues regarding Willis Plaza‘s fitness are clear as the Trinidad and Tobago forward has said that he will feature for his team whenever his coach suggests and will give his full effort to bag a win this time.
On the other hand, since taking charge Mohun Bagan coach Shankarlal Chakraborty, has seen his side win against Aizawl FC and lose against the league leaders Minerva. So the manager is in a spot of bother and to increase his distress, Bagan’s talisman Sony Norde has decided to leave the club on mutual consent. There are also doubts regarding last derby’s star Yuta Kinowaki‘s fitness.
Surprisingly, the Mariners’ coach was also all praise for the opposition. “East Bengal are ahead of us in the points table and after the derby loss they have remained undefeated whereas we have lost matches after the derby win”, the Mohun Bagan coach said. He also applauded his counterpart Jamil for being more experienced due to his stint at Aizawl and years of coaching experience at Mumbai FC.
East Bengal trained at the Salt Lake stadium and coach Jamil and his Red and Yellow Brigade seemed very positive ahead of the crucial fixture. The practice session included physical training and light practice along with set-piece drills. Jamil feels that the Bagan defence can be broken through set-piece and his players must be good with their delivery in the box as now they have the towering presence of their new recruit Dudu.
Dudu said in an interview after the practice session that the match is very crucial for them and it is not a battle of individuals. It is a team game and the better team through the 90 minutes will prevail.
East Bengal’s Brazilian defender, Eduardo Ferreira who has been a rock at the back for the Red and Gold said, “Every match brings out a new character in you and we should think one match at a time. We will be going all out to get all three points in this match as this will help us lift the trophy later in the season.” On being asked about Mohun Bagan’s new recruit Moghrabi, Eduardo said that he has played against him earlier and he is a very skilful and intelligent player but his team is ready to face any challenge at the moment.
Former Bagan player and current East Bengal star, Katsumi Yusa also had his say regarding the highly anticipated fixture and the Japanese midfielder wants to secure a win from this match. Otherwise, East Bengal will be left far behind in the title race. He also said that scoring in a derby is special to every player, but whoever scores it does not matter to him as the team winning matters the most. Before concluding Katsumi also said that new recruit Dudu will add to their firepower and he is hopeful that the new forward can score against his former team.