Its the grandest stage in Indian football where stars arise and legends are made.
Football time and again proves that it is not just a sport, but also a mixture of different kinds of emotions. It’s not always about glory, triumph and passion sometimes it only represents pain, agony and heartbreak. But, this beautiful game has shown us the light time and again to move along following the passion in our hearts.
The Kolkata Derby is one such high voltage match, where the tables turn very quickly and supporters wait in expectation for a rollercoaster of emotions throughout the 90 minutes. This fixture comprises of two teams who are differently enriched in their culture and heritage and form the oldest and fiercest rivalry in Indian football.
The clash between Mohun Bagan and East Bengal has gifted us many memorable matches through the years. The fixture has produced some unforgettable moments, players have gone from heroes to villains in the space of minutes. But, more often than not the game has decided which side the pendulum will swing to, in terms of winning the title in a particular season.
So, the stage is once again set as the biggest game in Indian football returns to the iconic Salt lake Stadium. This match is also often decided by a piece of individual brilliance or an unforced error. With that said, let’s take a look at the five stars who could decide Sunday’s clash in the I-League.
East Bengal signed him recently from their direct rivals, Mohun Bagan and the veteran midfielder has taken little time to prove himself in the Red and Gold outfit as he opened his scoring in their first match against Aizawl FC. Katsumi is one of the most experienced foreigners who are plying his trade in India for quite some time now and his versatility and play-making ability will definitely benifit East Bengal.
The Japaneese midfielder was the nerve centre of the Bagan team and is no stranger to this high voltage fixture. So the 29-year-old midfielder will surely bring his experience to play in the coming match against his former club.
The Haitian winger is probably one of the best players plying their trade in India and the most high-profile player set to play in this match. Norde has time and again shown his mettle to the Indian football lovers and will hope to do so in the future for the Mariners. The 28-year-old winger was again in great form in their first match against Minerva Punjab.
Quick movement, excellent trickery and mazy runs, the Haitian has everything up his sleeve. He knows this league well and has been with Mohun Bagan for some time now. So, he is definitely one of the players to watch out for in this grand fixture.
Plaza blew hot and cold for East Bengal last season but still coach Khalid Jamil has kept faith with him to lead the line. The Trinidad and Tobago international can definitely be a threat to Bagan’s defense, as he is good with link-up play and creates a lot of space for the wingers to utilize.
The 30-year-old forward is very dangerous inside the box and has the ability to penetrate through the Bagan defense. The only thing the forward needs to take care of is his discipline as he has been sent off in this fixture in the past.
Amnah was the ace of spades for Jamil when the duo were at Aizawl. The Syrian midfielder was a vital cog in Jamil’s Aizawl’s side who were the surprise champions last season. The 34-year old is known for his interceptions and ball distribution. Also, his excellent passing skills make him one of the most reliable midfielders in the league.
The Syrian also has the experience of winning the league last campaign and will hope to continue more of the same with the Red and Gold. He will partner Yusa in the heart of the East Bengal midfield and their combination will play a vital role against the Mariners.
Our list ends with talented youngster, Azharuddin Mallick. Mallick may be the only youngster amidst all big boys in this list but on the basis of impact he is no less than any of them. The 20-year old can feature anywhere in the forward line and has a lot pace to get in behind the East Bengal defense. He may be young but on his day he can be a nightmare for any defense. Playing against East Bengal is nothing new for Mallick as he enjoys a good record against the Red and Gold.
Players can emerge as heroes or go down as villains in this grand fixture. Azhar is one example of a player who emerged as a hero from this fixture. He scored the winning goal in the derby last season as the Mariners won the match 2-1. Azhar has improved a lot under the tutelage of coach Sanjoy Sen and this definitely looks likely to be his breakthrough season. The talented striker can again emerge as a star for Bagan in this big clash.