The India footballing season has given us some of best stories possible this year and right at the fag end of it, with Aizawl FC’s triumph in the I-League capturing the imagination of not the entire nation but the world as well. And as we move into the final days of the season, we will hopefully be able to add a final chapter worth remembering as Mohun Bagan and East Bengal clash in a Kolkata Derby which will also feature as the second semi-final of the Federation Cup at the Barabati Stadium in Cuttack.
This has been a disappointing season so far for both the sides with the two sides. After threatening to really make it count this season, the Kolkata duo finished in second and third position on the I-League table. But they know that with uncertainties looming about the next football season, the Federation Cup offers them a chance at a final hurrah.
So has the edge going into the game, we try to find who has the edge in terms of numbers going into the game:
1 – One player from East Bengal’s last triumph in the Federation Cup will be on the opposition side today viz. Raju Gaekwad, who moved to Mohun Bagan later in 2015.
2 – The two teams shared the trophy two times between themselves – incidentally in two consecutive years – 1979 and 1980.
3 – Three players from the two sides combined stand with two goals in the tournament – the highest goalscorers for their respective sides. Whilst Balwant Singh and Sony Norde have found the back of the net twice for Bagan, East Bengal has seen only Robin Singh do the same for them.
4 – Only four players in the East Bengal squad remain from their last triumph in the Federation Cup viz. Arnab Mondal (who also scored in the final), Mehtab Hossain (who was the captain of the side that year), Robert Lalthlamuana and Lalrindika Ralte.
5 - It’s been five years since East Bengal got their hands on the coveted trophy. Chidi Edeh led the Red and Gold with five goals in that campaign as they defeated Dempo 3-2 in the final played at the Kanchenjunga Stadium in Siliguri.
7 – The last time these two sides met was six years back in the 2010 Federation Cup final when East Bengal defeated Mohun Bagan 1-0 to lift their seventh Fed Cup trophy.
8 – Mohun Bagan forward Jeje Lalpekhlua holds the record for scoring the highest number of goals in a single edition of the Federation after he scored eight in last year’s competition.
14 – Mohun Bagan have won the Federation a record 14 times, the last of which came last year when they defeated a very different Aizawl side in the final. They have also finished runners-up on five occasions.