The Mariners were defeated by their arch-rivals in the reverse fixture earlier this season.
It’s that day of the season once again. Mohun Bagan lock horns with rivals East Bengal, in what is set to be Khalid Jamil’s first encounter with his previous employers. However, with both teams’ aspirations of winning the I-League prize nearly over, the biggest thing to play for on Sunday is pride. The Mariners will aim for revenge after losing their first Kolkata Derby in nearly three years, last month, while the Red and Gold Brigade will aim to do the double in this clash.
Khalid Jamil (Mohun Bagan)
Khalid Jamil answered the media’s questions before his first Kolkata Derby as Mohun Bagan head coach. When asked about whether the game coming so early in his stint irks him he said, “I don’t have any problem with the scheduling. What happened last year is in the past. We’re only thinking about this match. Everybody must work hard to win it.”
“I’m very relaxed for this game. We’re feeling good, everyone is fine and we’re confident heading into the game,” he explained on the team’s mood before the match.
Questioned about whether facing his former employers gives him more leverage to perform well Jamil quipped, “It’s not about any personal agenda. It’s not about any individual, but it’s only about Mohun Bagan. I’m not thinking like that.”
It will be the first Kolkata Derby for Khalid Jamil as the Mohun Bagan head coach
“The match is very important. But still, we have many matches remaining. However, this is our home match and we need a positive result from it.” he further added.
The tacticin was questioned about whether the long gap before the match has helped the Mariners. He said, “The gap we have got before this match, we’ve worked on our fitness. We’ve given recovery to all our players and made sure we’re fit. The players must give their best on Sunday, regardless of whatever position it is from.”
Speaking on his stance about how to deal with the game he said, “Depends on the game. If we score an early goal, we have to be defensively strong and hold out for 90 minutes. It all depends on how the match progresses.”
Asked about East Bengal’s strengths the Mariners’ boss said, “Just like I said, each and every one of their players is overall very good. Their defence possesses a World-Cupper who is extremely experienced. Their midfield and attack are also great. The domestic players are also very calm and intelligent.”
When questioned on the importance of the match for him Jamil explained, “I don’t have to say anything about this match. Everyone knows the gravity of it. For this match, maybe we’ll get big chances or maybe not. For me, all the games are equally important.”
“For this match, you have to fight as it’s an extremely important one for the fans,” he signed off.
Alejandro Menendez (East Bengal)
When asked about his approach to the match East Bengal head coach Alejandro Menendez said, “I already said that I always have a positive approach. The opponent is a big one and it’s a huge match. In these type of matches, the small details will always matter.”
“I think that already we have many matches left. The team that will be more consistent will fight for the league,” he added.
Talking about Bagan’s strengths he explained, “They have many big players. We know all of these players and we have to stop them.” However, when asked later about whether Sony Norde can make an impact he said, “We will see on Sunday.”
Alejandro Menendez will look to do the double over the Mariners in the fixture
East Bengal are under special pressure to win on Sunday considering title rivals Chennai City and Real Kashmir face-off a day later. Upon being questioned about whether that fixture puts added weight on the Kolkata Derby result Menendez said, “My view always remains the same. We have to get points and try to fight for the title. In the I-league, many teams are fighting for the championship and we’ll see many matches between big teams.”
“Every team will lose points and we have to focus on only trying to get our points. The schedule is difficult for everyone as they have to face each other,” he opined.
Menendez was finally asked about whether Bagan are their most intimidating opposition in the I-League. He said, “For now, Mohun Bagan is our most difficult match, as it’s our next match. We always take it one game at a time. But, all the teams fighting for the league are very difficult to beat as they are different teams.”
Sukhdev Singh and Sourav Das are the only absentees with injuries. Omar Elhusseiny, who suffered a knock against NEROCA FC is fit as well as Arijit Bagui.
Manoj Mohammed is ruled out of the game after picking up a red card against Indian Arrows. However, Mexican striker Enrique Esqueda is back and in contention for the game.
Mohun Bagan- Shilton (GK), Bagui, Kingsley, Lalchhawnkima, Ambekar, Mallick, Kinowaki, Hossain, Norde, Kisekka, Dicka.
East Bengal– Dagar (GK), Lalramchullova, Acosta, Borja, Kamalpreet, Laldanmawia, Lalridika, Aidara, Dovale, Santos, Justin.
The match will be played at the Salt Lake Stadium on Sunday at 5 PM. It will be telecast on Star Sports 3 and be available for stream on JioTV and Hotstar.