The second and final Kolkata Derby of the season will see East Bengal FC and ATK Mohun Bagan collide at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) on Saturday. The Mariners will have a chance to confirm a top-four finish with a win. That is vital because it will hand ATK Mohun Bagan a home advantage in the initial playoff knockout round. On the other hand, the Torch Bearers can reclaim ninth place from Jamshedpur FC with a win.
As their season inches closer to its end, East Bengal FC will be looking to finish on a high. Stephen Constantine’s men have only lost one out of their last four Hero ISL games and that loss came against Chennaiyin FC almost two weeks ago.
Last week, East Bengal FC clinched a narrow 1-0 win against a second-string Mumbai City FC in their own backyard, becoming the only team to pick up all three points from the Mumbai Football Arena this season. Striker Cleiton Silva has scored 12 goals so far. The Brazilian is level with Diego Mauricio in the Golden Boot race this season. (Club statistics)
“We are as prepared as we can be for this game. We had a fantastic result last week against Mumbai, where we stopped their unbeaten run at home and also prevented them from scoring,” said Constantine. “It was a good day for us last week after we played well. We are confident ahead of the next game and will be fighting for all three points,” he added.
ATK Mohun Bagan’s recent form has been a tad concerning for the club. The Mariners have only won one of their last four Hero ISL games. However, that win came against Kerala Blasters FC last week, who are the wot direct rivals for a top-four spot. Head coach Juan Ferrando will be eying their first set of back-to-back wins in the league after over two months.
In the last match, ATK Mohun Bagan came from a goal down to beat the Blasters 2-1. Dimitri Petratos, who has scored eight goals so far, pocketed his seventh assist of the season when he set up one of Carl McHugh’s goals. Manvir Singh set up the other one for the midfielder who is now the third-highest goal scorer at the club this season. (Club statistics)
“Our focus is on winning the match and getting the three points and that is it. We are not thinking about the third and fourth position,” said Ferrando. “For us, it is not important who scores for the team. The most important aspect for us is controlling the spaces when we attack and doing the same while defending. All players working in tandem is good for the team,” he added.
The Kolkata Derby has been a one-sided affair so far in the Hero ISL as ATK Mohun Bagan have won all five previous encounters against East Bengal FC. (Hero ISL standings)
Report – Pratyusha Mukherjee