ISL 2023-24: Fresh From Super Cup Success, East Bengal Take On Rivals Mohun Bagan - Preview

East Bengal are yet to win a derby against their bitter rivals Mohun Bagan since the two teams left the I-League to join the Indian Super League

(Photo: File)
ISL: Mohun Bagan will play East Bengal on February 3 (Photo: File)

A triumphant Super Cup campaign boosting their confidence, East Bengal would fancy their maiden Indian Super League derby win, while Mohun Bagan would look to maintain their supremacy in the historic clash when the two arch-rivals face each other here on Saturday. (More Football News)

The two sides have met six times in the ISL and Mohun Bagan boast of winning each of them. But the Red and Gold Brigade will be heading into this game as equal favourites after their resounding success in the Super Cup in Odisha last month.

After a few disappointing campaigns, East Bengal turned a new chapter with the appointment of former Bengaluru FC head coach Carles Cuadrat as their tactician.

First, they made it to the final of the Durand Cup, got into the playoff spots halfway into the ISL campaign, before finally winning silverware that gave them a chance to compete in Asia next year.

The Mariners, on the other hand, came into the season with one of the strongest squads at their disposal after the acquisition of multiple marquee players in the summer. However, injury issues coupled with other complications saw them struggle.

Head coach Juan Ferrando left, leading to the arrival of a familiar face in Antonio Habas back to the club.

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Habas will be on the touchline for the first time in this ISL season and he could not have come across a better opportunity than the Kolkata Derby to make an impact. The Mariners will be hoping to avenge their defeat to East Bengal during the Super Cup.

Habas has been a proven customer in the ISL. He knows the drill and understands the expectations that come with being at the helm of a formidable club like Mohun Bagan Super Giant.

In fact, Habas boasts of a good record against his counterpart Cuadrat, having played against his teams on five occasions in the ISL previously and winning thrice along with drawing once in those encounters.

East Bengal also have reasons to be confident. They won their first Kolkata Derby win in over four years when they triumphed over the Mariners in the Durand Cup in August last year.

They repeated that feat with another heroic effort in the Super Cup, and coach Cuadrat is desperately eyeing a third such victory in the biggest stage of them all on Saturday.

Their title-winning effort last month aside, the Red & Gold Brigade enter this match on the back of three consecutive goalless draws in the ISL.

Their defensive solidity this year has been laudable, but that needs to translate into greater freedom to their forwards to explore goal-scoring opportunities upfront.

Cuadrat will, however, be cautious of not letting their instincts and confidence get the better of them, as the sheer individual brilliance brimming through the Mohun Bagan Super Giant ranks can rip apart any backline when on song.

For East Bengal to find their scoring boots to fetch the coveted three points from this match, their best bet will be their Brazilian talisman and skipper Cleiton Silva.

Into his fourth season in the ISL, Silva has scored 33 goals and bagged eight assists in 61 appearances. He has netted five times in 10 games in this campaign.