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Roy Krishna holds key for Bagan

When the Big Two of Indian football clash in an ISL VII match on Friday, Bagan’s form or East Bengal’s struggle will not matter

Arindam Bandyopadhyay Calcutta Published 19.02.21, 04:22 AM
Roy Krishna

Roy Krishna File picture

A clash between table toppers and third from the bottom should not evince much interest. But when the clash is between ATK Mohun Bagan and SC East Bengal standings, formbook and predictions go for a toss. Derby history is replete with stories of underdogs having the last laugh.

So when the Big Two of Indian football clash in an ISL VII match at the Nehru Stadium in Fatorda on Friday, Bagan’s form or East Bengal’s struggle will not matter.


Bagan, are at the very top of the table and are favourites to walk away with the League Winners’ Shield. East Bengal, on the other hand, could not recover from a poor start. Having won the first Derby on November 27, three points will also give Bagan double delight.

For East Bengal coach Robbie Fowler, serving a four-match ban, and his team, it will be an opportunity to give their fans something to smile about in a season which didn’t really take off.

For Antonio Lopez Habas and his men, a victory is essential in their march to the title.

Throughout the season, Bagan have been consistent. After 17 games, Bagan (36) have secured more than double that of East Bengal’s points tally (17) — highlighting the gulf in class between them.

“The attitude of players, the level of pressure are different than other matches because you have the possibility to change the season with one victory.”

For East Bengal, the clash presents an opportunity to set an early marker for next season.

“This Derby has got a lot of history and memories. Hopefully, we can do our fans proud,” East Bengal assistant coach Tony Grant

In the first Derby, Bagan’s Roy Krishna and Manvir Singh scored once each.

Krishna will once again be a threat to the East Bengal defenders who seem to press the sleep button at the drop of a hat.

“Krishna is a fantastic footballer but it is very important for us not be dependant on him,” Habas said.

“He is a consistent performer. We respect certain players but we do not fear anyone,” was Grant’s take on the Fijian.

East Bengal have a trump card in Bright Enobakhare who has scored some good goals and much will depend on him. “Bright is a high-quality player and has scored some good goals,” Bagan defender Sandesh Jhingan said.

For the record

  • East Bengal and Mohun Bagan met for the first time on August 8, 1921, in the Cooch Behar Cup final.
  • Mohun Bagan, now ATK Mohun Bagan, interestingly, won the first Derby after Independence, the last clash of the I-League and the first meeting in ISL.
  • East Bengal though have a better head-to-head record, winning 129 of the 370 matches. Bagan triumphed in 120 and 121 ties ended in a draw. East Bengal also have scored more goals (321) than Bagan who have netted 313.
  • In their last 10 meetings, however, Mohun Bagan have won five, lost two and drawn three.

Hariprasad Chattopadhyay

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