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regular-article-logo Thursday, 23 May 2024

Calcutta derby heats up: Mohun Bagan eyes top spot in clash against East Bengal

Mohun Bagan require just one more point to qualify for the playoffs and need to win all all their remaining matches to claim the League Shield title

PTI Calcutta Published 09.03.24, 07:47 PM
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Representational Image TT online

A resurgent Mohun Bagan Super Giant under coach Antonio Lopez Habas will look to keep their derby record intact and climb to the top of the Indian Super League table when they take on arch-rivals East Bengal in the return leg fixture here on Sunday.

The former champions pressed the restart button after reuniting with their most successful coach Habas to be unbeaten in six matches since the first-leg derby that saw a 2-2 stalemate.

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Four out of their 10 wins from 16 matches have come in the last six games under the Spanish tactician who is the most successful coach in the Indian top tier with two titles both with the previous entity ATK.

Mohun Bagan require just one more point to qualify for the playoffs and need to win all all their remaining matches to claim the League Shield title. They can also win the Shield if they draw against Mumbai City FC and win their remaining matches.

Mohun Bagan also hold the bragging rights in the ISL derby as they are yet to lose against their arch-rivals in seven exchanges. The Mariners have won six of these games and drawn once until now.

Another win on the day will see them equal the tally of current leaders Mumbai City FC, who have played two extra matches than the Calcutta giants.

Habas, however, advised the team to be cautious about becoming overconfident.

"Overconfidence sometimes kills, we have to guard against it," Habas said on the eve of the derby at the Salt Lake Stadium.

"Derby is a different game. For me, the best moment is to win tomorrow. We are looking for only three points. For fans, it's a big game but for us, it has to be professional." The coach credited the players' commitment for their turnaround in the second half of the tournament.

"I am very happy with the performance of all the players in the team. One thing important for me is that they are committed," Habas said.

Dimitri Petratos, who had bagged the equaliser in the previous Calcutta derby, will once again be the key figure in Mohun Bagan's attacks.

"Look I am enjoying my football. Trying my best to do what my team needs and coach needs," said the Australian who has created 18 goal-scoring opportunities since the start of 2024," Petratos said.

Petratos has netted seven times and assisted once in 14 appearances in this campaign. He has taken 36 shots with 50 per cent of them landing on target.

The scenario is different for the Carles Cuadrat-coached East Bengal who have slipped to No 10 on the table after losing thrice in their last five matches.

The Red and Golds not only have to win their remaining four games but they need three teams -- NorthEast United FC, Chennaiyin FC, and Jamshedpur FC -- to drop points to ensure their playoff chances.

"We have 12 points to play. They have been playing after long time. But still, we have to give our best tomorrow," the East Bengal coach said.

"I think Mohun Bagan at the moment are favourites but I think my players are ready to give their best," he said.

Match starts 8.30pm IST.

Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Telegraph Online staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.

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