Mohan Bagan are set to take on East Bengal in the third Kolkata derby of the year as the two teams battle it out for a spot in the finals of the Federation Cup 2017 at the Barabati Stadium in Cuttack. Both teams head into this semi-final match after drawing their last group stage match, but it's the Mariners who hold the upper hand.
The first meeting between the two this year ended in a goalless draw and in their second encounter Mohan Bagan came out on top as they won 2-1. Mohan Bagan also have a better record in their last five clashes with the Mariners winning two and East Bengal just one.
So Sanjoy Sen's men will be looking to continue their impressive form against East Bengal and after having fielded a weak side in their final group game as qualification was already confirmed he assured they are focusing on recovering in time for the Kolkata derby.
"It's like a circle. The teams which ended the I-League as the top four have ended up as Federation Cup semi-finalists. Yes, you might term it as the biggest match of the tournament but you cannot discount Aizawl FC. We finished 2nd and East Bengal 3rd in the league so there is not much of a difference," Goal.com quoted Sen as saying.
"Now it's not about who's in form and not in form, the players who stand up and deliver on the given day and soak in the pressure will advance."
Darryl Duffy will be fit and ready to go again after he was rested. And despite the fact that Mohan Bagan has an upper hand over East Bengal on imported players, Sen feels it will not give them an advantage.
"With three foreigners East Bengal could not win against Aizawl. We too have struggled with four foreigners when we played Lajong. So, foreigners, domestic players don't count here. Indians have proved their mettle in this tournament, I have nothing to add to that," Sen said.
While Mohan Bagan topped their group, East Bengal had to settle for a second place finish after they were held to a 0-0 draw against a second-string Aizawl FC team. However, East Bengal have two players back as Gurwinder Singh and Mehtab Hossain both served their one-game suspensions. But Ugandan defender Ivan Bukenya is still a doubt for this match.
Speaking ahead of this match, East Bengal manager Ranjan Chowdhury said irrespective of how the two teams qualified, the semifinal will be a "whole new ball game".
"A match is not won by how you approach the 90 minutes, but how you play in those 90 minutes," Chowdhury said and promised "a different" East Bengal in the Kolkata derby.
Where to watch
The Federation Cup semi-finals between Mohan Bagan and East Bengal is set to start at 7 pm IST.
TV and live streaming information
India: TV: Ten 2. Live streaming: Sony Liv