It is strange to many that the historical Kolkata derby will not be held in the City of Joy. But, well, desperate times call for desperate measures. As the Salt Lake Stadium gets a facelift ahead of the FIFA U-17 World Cup next year, the two giants of Indian football -- Mohun Bagan and East Bengal -- will clash swords Saturday at the Kanchenjunga Stadium, Siliguri in an I-League match.
Catch the match report HERE.
The two sides faced the last time in January. East Bengal were headed for a win, but Mohun Bagan, the defending I-League champions, made sure they eked out a point from the game. Ranti Martins and Cornell Glen were the scorers in that game at the Salt Lake Stadium.
Bagan saw their long unbeaten run in the I-League come to an end in their previous fixture, when Aizawl FC beat them 2-1. Nevertheless, with seven wins, four draws and one loss, the Mariners still hold a three-point advantage over second-placed Bengaluru FC in the I-League 2016 table.
East Bengal, meanwhile, are five points behind their derby rivals.
The Red and Golds also took on Aizawl FC in their previous game of the league and came out victorious, after a brilliant come back, powered by a Martins hat-trick. The win in the brightest manner possible has definitely given them a boost going into this game against Mohun Bagan. Having said that, playing in a derby is a different ball game altogether.
"There is always pressure in a derby. I hope we perform well and we secure the three points. If we win, our chances definitely go up," East Bengal coach Biswajit Bhattacharya was quoted by the I-League website ahead of the game.
"It is simple from here, we have to win this match," quipped East Bengal veteran midfielder Mehtab Hossain. "Even a draw is not sufficient as this will kick us out of the title race."
Martins and Glen are the two goal threats in the game for the sides and the competition between the Nigerian and the Trinidad & Tobago man is getting reflected all over the I-League 2016 top-scorers list. Which of these strikers will get the last laugh Saturday, remains to be seen.
"I do not care if I get a goal or not, we need to win and we need to win at least three out of our last four to win the Hero I-League," Glen said.
The most positive news for the match is none of the key players are unavailable for both teams. Bagan have the likes of Sony Norde and Jeje Lalpekhlua once again at their disposal for this match. The duo missed the defending champions' previous I-League fixture, owing to national team committments.
Where to watch live
The match is scheduled to kick-off at 4:30 p.m. IST (11 a.m. GMT) April 2. Viewers in India and the rest of the subcontinent can catch the game on Ten 2 (Ten Action).
Online streaming will be available on tensports.com.
Live scores of the match can be found on the I-League twitter handle.