Kolkata is going to witness the season’s first long-awaited derby between Mohun Bagan and East Bengal at Salt Lake stadium tomorrow in the tenth round of the I-League.
This derby means a lot for to Bengalis, who are heavily invested with the machinations of these Clubs. Known as the eternal rivalry between the two Bengali communities, ‘Ghoti’ & ‘Bangal’, this prestigious derby is almost like a mega festival of Bengali culture. Bengalis wait eagerly throughout the entire season just to watch these two sides clash against each other on the ground.
Undoubtedly, this is the biggest football derby of the country and is known as the Indian version of El Clasico. This is counted as one of the biggest derbies of the world as well and frenzy surrounding this derby can be easily compared to the most hotly contested derbies in the world, which includes the likes of Boca Juniors vs Riverplate, Barcelona vs Real Madrid, Manchester United vs Manchester City & AC Milan vs Inter Milan.
FIFA has also included this derby in the list of its classic rivalries. More than a hundred thousand passionate spectators will be there in the stadium to support and watch their sides. This match divides the football crazy Bengali society into two parts, Nobody cares about what the teams have done in the season so far, all they want is to see their team victorious at the end of the day.
In to the current circumstances, Mohun Bagan are standing far behind arch rival East Bengals, but the pattern in this derby bears testament to victory for the team that comes from behind after conceding. A few days ago, the condition of Mohun Bagan resembled a mini hospital due to the injury of several key players and while the Red & Gold brigade are contenders of the I-League crown just two points behind table toppers Dempo, the players are in superb condition to take on their arch rivals.
Meanwhile, Syed Rahim Nabi and Odafa have recovered from injury and are expected to be in the starting eleven, the injury of off form player Eche in Mohun Bagan defence might proved to be a blessing in disguise for Karim Bencharifa.
This is going to be the battle of two experienced foreign coaches between Moroccan Karim Bencharifa & Brit Trevor Morgan. Karim guided Mohun Bagan to a 5-3 victory against East Bengal on 25th October 2009, one of the best glory in club’s history.
Morgan has managed to win all the four derbies during his reign, including one under-19 final in the 2010-11 season in which year he had taken up the stewardship of East Bengal.
Mohun Bagan have been unbeaten against for a year against their arch rivals, and have managed to win twice and draw once under the supervision of Subrata Bhattacharya.
The Green & Maroon brigade, who just managed two points from their last three outings will heavily depend on the Nigerian Odaga Okolie to stem the rot, since he has a hundred percent scoring record against East Bengal in a Mohun Bagan jersey. More importantly, Mohun Bagan have not lost against their arch rivals during his spell with the club.
On the other hand, the poor condition of Mohun Bagan defence who have repeatedly failed to hold the lead this season will be of a concern for Karim Bencharifa.
While the Red & Gold brigade have looked like a well oiled machine since the Federation Cup, a good co-ordination between defence, midfield & the forward line means they have conceded only one goal in this year’s I-League yet. Morgan will also bank on the performance of three Nigerians, Okpara in central defence, Penn Orji in the midfield & Edeh Chidi up front.
Mehtab Hossain in their is doing an excellent task, and if form dictates, it shouldn’t be a difficult task for them to thump their arch rival and it is compulsory for them to maintain their status in the league table.
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In a press meet yesterday, Karim has said he has already selected his first eleven, but Trevor Morgan has not revealed whether he will start with the same line up used in the last few matches.