Familiar Opponents, New Milieu

Updated: Feb 18, 2021

Panaji, Nov 26: A new-look SC East Bengal side, buoyed by their rich legacy of a hundred years, will make their debut in the Hero Indian Super League with the Kolkata derby against arch-rivals ATK Mohun Bagan FC at the Tilak Maidan Stadium, Vasco on Friday.

Ever since SC East Bengal made their entry into India’s top-flight football competition, fans have been waiting in eager anticipation for the day when two of India’s most decorated and oldest clubs would square off against each other in what is arguably one of the biggest fixtures in Asian and world football.

This will be the 327th time that the two teams will play each other across all competitions since 1925, with the Red-and-Golds leading the head-to-head record with 129 wins as compared to their opposition’s 119.

SC East Bengal is currently managed by Liverpool FC legend Robbie Fowler, who himself was part of several high-voltage derbies as a player in the English Premier League during his stints at Liverpool and Manchester City FC.

With a good mix of talented Indian players such as Jeje Lalpekhlua, Balwant Singh, Eugeneson Lyngdoh, Debjit Majumder and Narayan Das, and highly experienced overseas recruits like Daniel Fox, Scott Neville, Anthony Pilkington, Matti Steinmann and Jacques Maghoma in their ranks, the Red-and-Golds look well balanced for their maiden Hero ISL campaign.

Sweating it out: SCEB players train in full swing ahead of their Hero ISL debut against ATKMB FC ©SCEB

Talking about his side’s preparation ahead of their first game at the pre-match Press conference on Thursday, Fowler said, “We’ve prepared properly. We know it has been a really short time for preparation, but the players are ready. There are obviously a few pains and niggles, but that’s to be expected and that’s going to be the case throughout the league.”

Earlier in the day, centre-back Daniel Fox and midfielder Anthony Pilkington were named SCEB’s captain and vice-captain respectively for the impending season.

This will be ATKMB FC’s second outing this season, with their opening fixture against Kerala Blasters FC ending in a 1-0 win last Friday.

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