On what will be a historic occasion, the traditional Kolkata giants ATK Mohun Bagan and SC East Bengal will lock horns with each other in their first Kolkata derby in the Indian Super League (ISL) on Friday.
Known to be one of the fiercest football rivalries in the globe, this Kolkata derby will be played at the grandest stage possible. The ISL has been marked as the top-flight competition of Indian football and it certainly holds an edge over the I-League or the now-defunct National Football League owing to its commerical and financial superiority.
Meanwhile, ATK Mohun Bagan will be the favourites after the win against Kerala Blasters and more so due to their experience in the franchise-based tournament.
With superstar striker Roy Krishna seeing the net already and Sandhesh Jhingan leading a defensive unit that seemed comfortable against Kerala’s continuous threats, the Green and Maroon brigade will look to extend their winning run.
“Maybe the advantage is with us as we have played the first match and won it. That way it may not be favourable for East Bengal. Again East Bengal can be benefitting from the fact that they are playing their first match,” Habas said on the eve of the big fight.
“We would like to play the match on the day of the match and not one day before it. It is natural that the players won’t be perfect after they get on the field after seven months. We need some more time to settle down but overall I am happy with how the team performed. We created chances and that goes to the credit of the team. It proves that there is good coordination in the side,” Habas said.
However, SC East Bengal coach Robbie Fowler believes that more than the Derby, they would want to with the match on Friday because it will be their ISL debut.
“It is a massive game not because we are playing ATK Mohun Bagan, it is important to us because it is our first game as a team. It is huge for the fans. It is probably one of the biggest games in India,” said the East Bengal gaffer.
“But the important thing is you got to go into them and try to use your head. You got to try and be sensible. In these types of games, the players can’t get carried away. You will dive into tackles, you will get too enthusiastic. So in this case, let’s try and play sensibly,” the Liverpool FC legend added.