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Two of the most celebrated clubs in Indian football are now lying low in the 7th and the 8th position of the premier football league in India. It doesn't give us a good impression ahead of the Sunday's I League fixture, but after all, it’s the Kolkata Derby. The points table will have minimal effect in the context of the match, even if one of the team was placed at the summit of the points table! The packed stands at the Salt Lake Stadium will make the occasion even more special. Both the clubs have had a shaky start to the season. After 6 rounds, both East Bengal and Mohun Bagan have each accumulated 9 points, while the former is above with a superior goal difference. Big players like Sony Norde and Enrique Esqueda will be out of action on Sunday evening. Yet there is everything to play for in the ‘Kolkata Derby’, the match which divides the ‘City of Joy’ into two halves!
Spanish flavourHigh profile signings by East Bengal have not yielded the expected results for the ‘red and gold’ brigade. In spite of having 2018 World Cupper Johnny Acosta and former La Liga star Borja Gomez Perez at the back, the defence has been shaky throughout. After a couple of impressive wins to kick-start their campaign, the Kolkata giants suffered a hat-trick of defeats. Former Real Madrid’s reserve team, who is at the helm of affairs in East Bengal is in a spot of bother ahead of the big match. Mexican striker Enrique Esqueda will not feature in the match due to an injury, a big blow for the team. Although the coach may field their new recruit Jaime Santos Colado for a few minutes. In spite of these, Alejandro is pretty confident about his team’s prospect against Mohun Bagan. “The team is training very well and high in confidence after the last win. The loss of Enrique is bad for us, but now we have to think about the players that can play. Santos will play some minutes in the game,” said Alejandro ahead of the all-important clash. The only bright side for East Bengal in the build-up to the match is that they have gained some sort of momentum after winning their previous tie against Gokulam Kerala FC last weekend. Meanwhile, Jobby Justin has been impressive for East Bengal in the season along with Brandon Vanlalremdika. These two footballers can be lethal in the forward line while Kassim Aidara will control the midfield.
Banking on strong forward lineMohun Bagan started the season with a couple of draws in the beginning but came back strongly with two away wins. But since then, it has been a topsy-turvy ride for the ‘Mariners’. After a 0-3 defeat to Churchill Brothers FC, they put up a spirited performance against league leaders Chennai City FC in a 1-1 draw. Shankarlal Chakraborty’s army will have its work cut out especially without the services of their most prized possession, Sony Norde. The tactician feels that the absence of Sony Norde won’t harm Mohun Bagan’s game in the Kolkata Derby. The ‘green and maroon’ brigade have won against East Bengal in the last I-League and has the capability to repeat the feat. “Sony is a fantastic player. But without him, we’ve won matches as well. The way we’ve handled the team,” said Shankarlal. Apart from Sony Norde, Mohun Bagan has a pretty formidable pool of foreign players, especially with Henry Kisseka and Dipanda Dicka in the forward line. Omar El Husseiny will also play an important role in the wings while Yuta Kinowaki will distribute the balls to the front. Not to forget, Dipanda Dicka scored a brace in Mohun Bagan’s 2-0 win against East Bengal in the last I-League clash, can he produce something special on Sunday? Whatever may be the outcome of the match, no one will hold an advantage in the match. It will be evenly poised even though some of the big names are missing from the starting line-up. After all, this is the biggest match in Indian football!