132nd Durand Cup: Mohun Bagan Take On East Bengal In A Made-in-heaven Cup Finale - Eastern Mirror
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132nd Durand Cup: Mohun Bagan take on East Bengal in a made-in-heaven Cup finale

By IANS Updated: Sep 02, 2023 6:09 pm
132nd Durand Cup
Photo: IANS

KOLKATA — Two of the country’s most iconic football clubs, Mohun Bagan Super Giant and East Bengal clash in what is considered a dream final of the 132nd Durand Cup at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan (VYBK) here on Sunday.

For fans of Indian football, it does not get bigger than this as Mohun Bagan Super Giant (MBSG) and Emami East Bengal (EEB) go head to head to earn the right to lay their hands on the three iconic and glittering Durand trophies and be crowned champions.

The first clash between the two local teams, in the group stages of this very edition, resulted in a favourable result for EEB as Nandhakumar Sekar’s strike made the difference. That they have managed to make their way into the final, shows how strong they have been in this tournament, that needle clash notwithstanding.

132nd Durand Cup
Photo: IANS

EEB were drawn into what was considered the easier group into Sunday’s blockbuster, while Mohun Bagan had to overcome the likes of Mumbai City and FC Goa in the knockouts. But Gokulam Kerala and a resurgent NorthEast United are in no way “easy games” in Indian football for any team and East Bengal had to fight their way to the grand finale.

Both teams are in good form and Carles Cuadrat, the EEB head coach was certainly brimming with clarity and confidence in the pre-match presser. 

“After the draw with the Bangladesh Army team, we talked among the team. Improved in our sessions. Then we beat Mohun Bagan and won the Derby. Then match by match we improved and now we are in the final,” Cuadrat said in the pre-match press conference on Saturday.

“It’s just the beginning of the process and I am happy. There are a lot of new players in the team and among foreigners, I have only worked with Cleiton (Silva) in the past. So, it’s just the beginning of the process. It’s really humid weather but that is for both the teams and we are ready to play the game. The last time East Bengal beat Mohun Bagan in two consecutive matches was in 2016. So it’s been a long time. So this time we want to give our best and try to win the trophy,” he added.

Juan Ferrando, the MBSG manager, not one to betray much emotions ever said it would be great if they could win the trophy.

“I am happy with our performance till now. We have played some good teams like Mumbai and FC Goa. And we are going to play another good team in the final. So, it will be great if we can win the trophy. We are in the preseason and I am happy with how we are progressing.

‘For me, the past is the past. Every match is different. Honestly, in the last Derby, I was more focused on the AFC Cup match but now I am happy that my players have passed the group stage. And tomorrow we have an opportunity to play against a good team. It’s a good target and a good challenge for us. We will try to win the trophy,” he said.

The organisers are expecting anywhere between 50,000 to 60,000 fans are expected to pack the VYBK on Sunday and with both coaches expressing trophy ambitions, both a psychological and tactical battle is on the cards.

Spanish deep defender Hector Yuste would be a key part of that tactical battle at the heart of the MBSG defence and he appeared very eager to get out there, having missed the first derby.

“I don’t mind. I just love playing football. I’ll even play keeper,” he quipped on being asked whether he would prefer a three-man or four-man defence in the final.

Hector further added, “I arrived on Sunday morning. And I played. So, I am happy to qualify for the next round in the AFC Cup. Yes for sure I heard about the Derby. Many people told me. It’s going to be difficult because physically we are not 100 percent ready. But we have to enjoy that pressure. And we have to give everything in the final. We want to win and dedicate it to our fans.”

Also enamoured of the fan’s love was EEB’s Borja Herrera, a key player in the team’s great run in the tournament and crucial to Cuadrat’s plans on Sunday.

“It was amazing to see the fans crying, in the rain,” he said in reverence when asked if he found the Kolkata Derby different. About the final, Borja said, “It’s going to be a tough game tomorrow. Both teams will try to win. It is a final. That is most important. But we will give our best on the field and definitely try to win the trophy.”

For the fans, it is certainly a final made in heaven, particularly for the fans in Kolkata and the state of West Bengal and as well for their millions of admirers across the country.

Also read: Hockey 5s Asia Cup 2023: India defeat Malaysia in semis, final showdown against Pakistan

By IANS Updated: Sep 02, 2023 6:09:10 pm
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