KOLKATA: Mohammedan Sporting Club will not be short of motivation when they take on East Bengal in Mini Kolkata Derby as Raghunath Nandi’s men battle for pride at Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan (Saltlake Stadium) on Tuesday, kick-off 4:30 pm.
Black Panthers returns to the Saltlake Stadium exactly after 4 years as they played their last match at this iconic venue on September 11, 2014 against Sports Authority of India.
Mohammedan SC are at sixth position on the Calcutta Premier Division ‘A’ log with 13 points from 7 matches. Even if mathematically Mohammedan SC are still within their rights to hold out hopes of a miraculous late surge to success, subconsciously they know this is now a near impossible task. As a result, it will be only natural if there is not the same motivation to succeed tomorrow as there might have been in their previous matches.
However, Black Panthers technical director believes there is plenty to play for and strictly advised his players to concentrate on the task at hand, as they are keen to present a good account of themselves in remaining matches.
“The league is not over yet and we are taking the game very seriously. There is pride to be played for,” said Nandi. “We have to make our supporters happy by winning this game against East Bengal.”
On the other hand, East Bengal’s title chase faltered after they lost 2-1 against Peerless in their last encounter. Now Subhash Bhowmick’s charges must win their remaining two matches while at the same time hoping that Mohun Bagan drop points.
Although Mohammedan SC won their last match 2-1 against West Bengal Police but Nandi feels meeting a wounded East Bengal is not going to be easy.
“We are playing a tough side in East Bengal. It’s a difficult moment for them because they lost their last match. But they are more than capable of a comeback. We have to put up some good work and make sure we take care of their strengths.”
“Preparations for the game have gone quite well. The victory against West Bengal Police did a lot of good for our confidence. The performance has been good; we just need to work on few aspects. There are no favourites once the match kicks-off and the better team will win eventually,” he added.
Mohammedan SC, going into the match, will rely on Princewill Emeka to lead the line. The former Neorca FC marksman is slowly regaining his form, having scored thrice in last three matches.
Princewill’s battle with East Bengal’s Costa Rican defender Johnny Acosta will be a key to the outcome, and the Nigerian has ensured they have nothing to fear against Acosta, who played the recently concluded FIFA World Cup in Russia.
“It’s not just about one player. He (Johnny Acosta) played the World Cup and deserves credit for that. But we must remind he was there with a different set-up. He is new to Indian football and still needs to prove himself. I don’t think his presence on the field would make any difference as long as we play our own game,” he explained.
With Nandi hoping to persuade Black Panthers hierarchy he has the credentials for the coaching position beyond this campaign, a derby victory is important, not least because it can be the barometer by which most fans measure the fortunes of the club.
Now a days the rivalry don’t not carry the same weight it did years ago, mainly because Black Panthers are no longer the dominating force in local football, however, people should expect fireworks when the two sides clash with pride on the line.