It is Kolkata derby time in the Indian Super League (ISL) once again as the two giants of Indian football, SC East Bengal and ATK Mohun Bagan, square off against each other. While the first derby of the season saw the Mariners emerge comfortable winners, it will be slightly more difficult this time against a Red and Golds side that has improved by leaps and bounds since then. As always, there are numerous sub-plots which make this clash a mouth-watering one and here are five players who may well turn out to be the lead protagonists of the highly-anticipated fixture-
The Fijian forward has been at his usual best all throughout the season. With 13 goals and two assists in 17 appearances, he has led the ATK Mohun Bagan attack with aplomb and will be looking to add to his derby tally having scored the first goal in the previous game in November. The best part about him is that he is one of those strikers who is always involved in the game and can come up with something brilliant out of absolutely nowhere. If he is given the space to run behind the SC East Bengal defence, that might spell doomsday for Robbie Fowler’s men.
When the Nigerian joined SC East Bengal in January, not many people in India would have ever heard about him. However, in less than two months, the 22-year-old has managed to capture the imagination of every fan with his incredible footwork and sudden burst of pace. He has three goals and an assist in 10 matches so far but his impact on the side’s overall gameplay has been immense. If given time on the ball and allowed to pick out passes in the final third, Bright has the ability to be decisive and can very well be the one to look out for.
Since his arrival from Odisha FC, the Brazilian has been a breath of fresh air for Bagan supporters. His quality on the ball and his game-reading make him one of the best attackers in the league without doubt. Top scorer in the ISL in 2016, the 33-year-old has a deadly left foot in his locker and is extremely potent from set-pieces. The creative outlet for Antonio Habas’ side, much will be dependent on how much space he is allowed on the ball and if he can combine like he usually does with Roy Krishna.
The young Indian attacker has been extremely impressive this term. Having bagged four crucially important goals alongside three assists so far, the 25-year-old will be hoping to make a mark once again in the derby after scoring once last time around. Pace and trickery being his biggest assets, Manvir will be a handful for Narayan Das down the Mariners’ right flank and might just be tasked with stretching the field of play at every given opportunity by Habas.
The German has been at the heart of everything good that SC East Bengal have done this season. With his languid but efficient style of play and late runs into the box, Steinmann can be a dangerous proposition for opposition defences. He already has four goals and three assists this term and will be an important cog in Robbie Fowler’s system tonight as well. With a passing accuracy of 74% to boast as well, Steinmann is definitely one of the most underrated players in the league this season, mostly due to his side’s inconsistent form.