Popularly dubbed the Kolkata Derby, East Bengal vs Mohun Bagan is the oldest football rivalry in India between two of its most historic clubs chasing bragging rights over the city of Kolkata. Mohun Bagan, of course, have merged with ATK and will play as ATK Mohun Bagan. The biggest game of Indian football is knocking on the doors, SC East Bengal takes on ATK Mohun Bagan on 27th November in a battle of undying legacy.
For the most part, Indian Super League has been quite successful. Since its inception in 2013, the league has gone from strength-to-strength, attracting an ever-increasing number of eyeballs to the product it had on offer.
Also Read:ISL 2020-21: East Bengal vs ATK Mohun Bagan Dream11 Prediction: East Bengal vs ATK Mohun Bagan Probable XI, Fantasy Playing Tips – East Bengal vs ATK Mohun Bagan at 7:30 PM IST Friday, 26th November on Insidesport
But in spite of all its achievements, there was always an asterisk attached to the league’s status as the outright top-flight football competition in the country. They had the better TV ratings, the more recognisable names and arguably a higher quality of football, but what they didn’t have was the home of Indian football: Kolkata.
Sure, they had ATK, who have performed incredibly well in this tournament, but the most authentic of Indian football’s rivalries still eluded them. They didn’t have the Kolkata derby. But seven years and six seasons later, all of that is about to change. Mohun Bagan and East Bengal are finally in the ISL.
Most football fans have been buzzing with anticipation upon learning the two titans of the sport’s inclusion in the 2020-21 season of the Indian Super League, but arguably, the more exciting addition to the league is that of Mohun Bagan’s. After all, they are the reigning I-League champions, and their merger with the reigning ISL champions ATK has fans salivating at the prospect of what this coming season holds for the team.
With the upcoming season of the Indian Super League just days away, we at Firstpost.com take a look at how defending champions ATK Mohun Bagan stack up.
# Strong Transfer Squad
The past few months have been really hard on sports in general, with the COVID-19 pandemic causing a series of issues that have unsettled even the Liverpool’s and the Manchester United’s of the world, so it’s quite impressive that ATK Mohun Bagan have more or less managed to retain the core of ATK’s ISL-winning side. However, that is a bit of a double-edged dagger, of course, since that also paved way for a series of high-profile departures, most coming from the Mohun Bagan camp.
On the incoming front, there have been a string of high-profile arrivals at the club, most notable of which is undoubtedly Sandesh Jhingan, the towering lynchpin of the Indian national team’s defence. Jhingan endured a torrid time in his final season at the Kerala Blasters, as an anterior cruciate ligament injury ruled him out for the entirety of the campaign. This move represents a chance for Jhingan to make a fresh start at the age of 27, and he’ll be hoping to get his hands on an ISL trophy, an achievement that has eluded him in spite of his indubitable ability as a footballer.
He’s not the only exciting name to be added to the roster, with exciting young talents Manvir Singh and Subhasish Bose joining from FC Goa and Mumbai City FC respectively. Manvir has likely been brought on in a bid to provide some off-the-bench support to the established attacking duo of David Williams and Roy Krishna, and his energy and athletic ability could give coach Antonio Habas some excellent problems in team selection if he takes to his new club well. Subhasish, despite being just 25 years old, is a well established first-team quality full-back, having played over 50 matches in the ISL over the last three seasons, and his addition will go a long way towards ensuring that the team can be as watertight as possible at the back. Subhasish also has the ability to play as a left-sided centre-back, and should Habas persist with playing three centrebacks, he could slot in at that position as well.
# Have Strength in Squad
ATK Mohun Bagan have a lot of strengths heading into this competition. They’ve recruited very intelligently ahead of the season, and on face value, look like the most well-rounded team in the league. They have good back-up for each and every position in the squad, and with an experienced manager at the helm, their rivals in the league would do well to be wary of them. The attacking partnership of Williams and Krishna also stands out, with few teams having such a well-established goal threat.
# Higher Expectations than Previous Season
I don’t envy Antonio Habas one bit for the situation he’s in now. ATK are the defending champions, and they have merged with the defending I-League champions. They’ve also spent a lot of money in the transfer window. Honestly, at this point, anything less than winning the title seems like it would be a letdown. In any case, playoff qualification seems like the bare minimum. Speaking of the playoffs, there’s also the small matter of the AFC Cup, a tournament in which Indian teams have consistently underperformed. A decent run in continental competition will also be expected from the side, especially considering the level of talent that is at their disposal.
ATK Mohun Bagan Squad:
Head coach: Antonio Lopez Habas
Goalkeepers: Arindam Bhattacharja, Arsh Shaikh, Aryan Niraj Lamba, Avilash Paul, Dheeraj Singh
Defenders: Tiri, Prabir Das, Pritam Kotal, Sandesh Jhingan, Subhasish Bose, Sumit Rathi
Midfielders: Boris Singh, Bradden Inman, Cark McHugh, Edu Garcia, Javier Hernandez, Glan Martins, Jayesh Rane, Michael Soosairaj, N Engson Singh, Pronoy Halder, Regin Michael, Sahil Sheikh.
Forwards: David Williams, Manvir Singh, Md Fardin Ali Molla, Roy Krishna.