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regular-article-logo Wednesday, 24 April 2024

Emami East Bengal and Mohun Bagan Super Giant officials stoke Durand Cup Derby fire

Tickets have been sold out for Derby clash on Friday itself

DIPTAYAN HAZRA Calcutta Published 02.09.23, 07:40 AM
A mounted police personnel keeps a close eye on fans at the Mohun Bagan ground on Friday. Fans of both Bagan and East Bengal queued up at their respective club grounds from early morning to buy tickets for Sunday’s Durand Cup final Derby clash.

A mounted police personnel keeps a close eye on fans at the Mohun Bagan ground on Friday. Fans of both Bagan and East Bengal queued up at their respective club grounds from early morning to buy tickets for Sunday’s Durand Cup final Derby clash. Gautam Bose

The mind game has started.

Emami East Bengal and Mohun Bagan Super Giant officials have started to stoke the Derby fire as excitement and buzz over Sunday’s Durand Cup final have reached its height.

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Tickets have been sold out for the Derby clash on Friday itself. “Super Sunday: Housefull!”, Durand Cup’s Facebook page exclaimed at around 8.10pm on Friday night.

Earlier, East Bengal officials set the ball rolling by alleging that Mohun Bagan, without naming the club, have been consistently getting preferential treatment by the match officials.

“A penalty was given in the ISL final against Bengaluru FC last season and a similar thing happened during Thursday’s semi-final (against Mumbai City FC). In this Durand Cup, one club has been granted special privileges,” East Bengal’s senior official Debabrata Sarkar alleged.

“Our demand is for fair play. If one team consistently is consistently backed by match officials, the rivals might lose motivation to compete. East Bengal has been at the receiving end of biased refereeing umpteenth time. If we want to enjoy a good match on Sunday, refereeing has to be top class,” he added.

If East Bengal have blowed the bugle, will Bagan remain silent? “They are caught in a time-warp. These mind games were in vogue two decades back. Not now. The game has evolved. These archaic tactics before a crunch match,” Mohun Bagan Athletic Club general secretary Debasish Dutta alleged.

“After the first semi-final on Tuesday NorthEast United coach (Juan Pedro Benali) comment was loaded with sarcasm. He said in Calcutta results do not depend on playing good football. There are external factors too. So we can also argue East Bengal got liberal help from the match officials,” Dutta said.

There were some decisions that went in favour of East Bengal during the semi-final clash which the red and gold brigade won on penalties after making a comeback from 2-0 down. Bagan also were on the ‘right side’ against FC Goa on Thursday. Bagan’s Ashique Kuruniayan was seemingly brought down outside the box but referee Ashwin awarded a penalty. Jason Cummings made it 1-1.

East Bengal fear that biased officiating may have an impact on the stands and could lead to violence on Sunday. “We are concerned about potential on-field disruptions. We just hope that the Derby is officiated fairly. Such decisions can incite trouble,” Sarkar said.

Sadiku seeks revenge

Mohun Bagan had lost their group-stage game to East Bengal and Armando Sadiku, who scored gem of a goal against FC Goa, is now seeking revenge on Sunday.

“Personally, yes. The first derby (group stage) was my debut at Mohun Bagan and I played very bad. So, I need a revenge. I’ll give my best to score and win this trophy,” the Albania forward said at the post-match news conference on Thursday.

Coach Juan Ferrando though refused to get into that. “No. This is a pre-season tournament for us. It’s important to check different players in different positions, to check some details about our system. My job is to prepare the plan, help the players and try to win the trophy,” he said

“At this point in time, the most important is the recovery of the players. We play the final on Sunday. After recovery, we’ll prepare for that. Currently, it’s not possible to speak about the final opponents because we are only thinking about our team,” the Spaniard added.

Ferrando also did not think Bagan were helped by the referee.

“If we are talking about the referee, we can say that there were two fouls which were not given to us and this is why they scored their first goal. Sometimes referees take difficult decisions. Sometimes it helps, sometimes it doesn’t,” he said.

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