4 reasons why the Kolkata Derby is a must watch

The Salt Lake stadium has a new suface for the first time since 2009
Avik Roy

Even though one team is a point away from winning the Calcutta Football League and the other is stuck in mid-table mediocrity when East Bengal and Mohun Bagan take the field on Sunday, Bengal will stop and gaze on the spectacle that they are blessed with, The Kolkata Derby.East Bengal need a point to be confirmed as the Champions, but a loss to their rivals will sour the taste of victory while Bagan will want to win it, ending what has been a torrid CFL campaign and earn the bragging rights for their supporters The battle between East Bengal and Mohun Bagan is considered as the battle of ‘Bangal’ (people who came to West Bengal after 1947 partition) and the ‘Ghoti’s (those residing at West Bengal before partition). They don’t bother who will win the CFL, but who will win the Derby.Here are the interesting angles in this season’s first derby:

#1 Newly built turf

The Salt Lake stadium has a new suface for the first time since 2009

One of the star attractions of this Derby is surely going to be the newly built turf. Till a few months ago, the Salt Lake Stadium was one of the rarest football ground on the earth that had artificial turf (a synthetic layer of grass). As per the FIFA regulations, all the international matches have to be played on a field which has natural grass.

So when India were given the responsibility to organize the U-17 World Cup by FIFA, the fate of the astroturf came to an end. The preparation of the new turf started three months ago and it is still not completely ready.

It was way back in the 2008-09 season when the Derby was played on a natural grass ground. East Bengal won the match by 3-0 thanks to the goal of Rahim Nabi (2) and Sunil Chhetri. This match will be the first time since then that the Salt Lake will see some competitive football and it is the biggest game in Indian Football that it will witness.

#2 Do Dong-Hyun

Do Dong has scored 10 goals in eight matches for the Champions

8 matches. 10 goals. 4 Man of the Matches. This is East Bengal’s new sensation Do Dong-Hyun, who has taken Kolkata by storm through his performances in the Calcutta Football League. In recent times, no other foreigners from any of the Kolkata giants have settled in this quickly.

The South Korean, who played in the last Indian Super League with NorthEast United, has already shown what he is capable with some exceptional performances. East Bengal coach Biswajit Bhattacharya hailed his fitness and ball control ability. In the first two matches of CFL, Dong failed to make any impact.

But in the third match, Dong scored a hat-trick against BNR and immediately emerged as the topic of discussion. Then on, he scored at least one goal in every match as East Bengal retained the CFL. The evergreen supporters have already created a parody by quoting a famous Hindi movie dialog, “Dong ko pakadna muskil hi nahi, namumkin hai (Catching Dong is not only tough, it’s impossible).

#3 Dudu Omagbemi

Dudu switched to Mohun Bagan from East Bengal will not get too much love from the East Begal fans

With two goalless draws from the first two matches, Mohun Bagan were struggling in the bottom half of the CFL table. Pressure was mounting on Mohun Bagan and coach Sanjay Sen. He was getting desperate for goals as Bagan hadn’t won the CFL trophy since 2009.

As fate would have it, Dudu’s agent was knocking Mohun Bagan’s door to plead the case of his client. Dudu, who played in Red and Gold last year was rejected by the club for his lacklustre performance in the I-League, was signed by Mohun Bagan instantly. Immediately after coming from Nigeria, he started training with the team.

In his first chance against BNR, he created a furor by scoring a hat-trick. From then, like his counterpart Du Dong, he scored on a regular basis and quickly emerged as the second top scorer of the league. East Bengal are well aware of the threat he carries and need to chalk out a special plan to stop the big Nigerian.

#4 Battle of Bengal

The two Bengali managers understand the importance of winning the Derby

Sanjay Sen was appointed last year as Mohun Bagan’s coach after the club released Subhash Bhowmick as they were keen on a Bengal-based coach. A few questions were raised at that moment as the former United Sports Club coach settled into the new job.

However, the decision bore fruit immediately as the Green and Maroon started the I-League on a winning note and maintained consistency. But what even a diehard Bagan fan would not have dreamed of came true as the club clinched the most coveted trophy of this country, the I-League.

With this, they have ended a six-year trophy drought and within a night, Sanjay became a topic of discussion for the whole country. But even after creating history, Mohun Bagan have failed to perform consistently in CFL and is out of the race from lifting the much-awaited title.

On the other hand, East Bengal are also depending on a Bengali coach, Biswajit Bhattacharya. Bishuda, as he is famously known, is almost certain of his success as his club might be the winner of this edition’s CFL with 22 points from eight matches. It remains to been who wins the ‘Battle of Bengali’s on Sunday.

Edited by Staff Editor


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