East Bengal and Mohun Bagan to lock horns in Siliguri

The match will be held at the magnificent Kanchenjunga Stadium here taking the two teams out of their shared home ground at Kolkata’s Salt Lake Stadium after a break of 17 years.

East Bengal and Mohun Bagan will clash for the 345th time since meeting first in 1921.   -  I-League

I-League leader and holder Mohun Bagan will look for consolidation while its traditional rival East Bengal aims for redemption in the return leg of the iconic contest between the two sides which happens to be the 14th round of the I-League.

The match will be held at the magnificent Kanchenjunga Stadium here taking the two teams out of their shared home ground at Kolkata’s Salt Lake Stadium after a break of 17 years.

Mohun Bagan, which has lost only once in the tournament so far, will be aiming for a win to strengthen its claim to retain the title. Coach Sanjoy Sen will have to sit out after being given a ban (which has been reduced to four matches now) for criticizing the All India Football Federation. Sen’s calm and acumen had seen the team lift the title last year and his absence in the technical area will be a key factor when the two rivals square up for the 345th time since meeting first in 1921.

Haitian striker Sony Norde missed practice on Friday raising doubts about his availability for the match. With 25 points from 12 matches, Bagan is surely enjoying the momentum at present and would look to the duo of Pronay Halder and Lenny Rodrigues to serve to their full potential as the opponent looks to take a greater share of the attack.

East Bengal, which held Mohun Bagan 1-1 in the previous meeting in the first phase, also has a great side with a good balance in the three departments. With Nigerian Ranti Martins, who is so far the highest scorer of the tournament with 11 goals, spearheading the East Bengal attack, there will be lot of onus on Frenchman Bernard Mandy to stop the likes of Cornell Glen and Katsumi Yusa from poaching a goal for Mohun Bagan.

In that situation Mehtab Hossain, the seasoned East Bengal midfielder who would be playing his 25th Derby, will have to see his combination with Sehnaj Singh in the centre to have Martins increase his personal tally and the chance of his team winning the match. With 20 points from 11 matches the encounter remains important for East Bengal as it tries to get back into the title race.

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