Panaji, November 24: The Kolkata Derby is the most important match in any tournament for players of both SC East Bengal and Atk Mohun Bagan. SC East Bengal centre-back Franjo Prce, though a newcomer to the side, has already imbibed the spirit of this crucial match-up.
“We will fight for every ball, and give our all,” the Croatian said when we caught up with him during training on Wednesday. The 25-year old defender, who has represented the world-cup finalists on the U-17 level, was happy to score SCEB’s first goal but rued the loss of two points. “The last time I scored a goal was in December for the Cyprot club AC Omania on their first match of the season. We won that game 1-0, so when I scored against Jamshedpur FC, I hoped we would win too, but it didn’t happen.”
According to the former Lazio man, SCEB can work on a few things. “There are many areas we would like to improve on. We all make mistakes, but we are training hard and preparing for the game in the best way. All the players look focused and know what this match means for the fans. We want to win this derby for them and, hopefully, we can celebrate together after the game.”
Although this is his first season in the Indian Super League, the Croatian is already aware of this match’s importance. “I watch all the matches of the ISL. At half-time, there’s always some reference to the derby. The Indian players in our squad are continually speaking about this game, about ATK Mohun Bagan, so I know how significant this match is not only for the people of Kolkata, but for the whole of India.”
Prce will be tasked with keeping the vicious attack of ATKMB at bay. When asked about the opponent’s quality going forward, the central defender chose to focus on their own strengths. “They have a lot of good attacking options, but we are a strong defensive unit too. Yes, it will be a tough battle, but we are ready to face them.”
The last man in defence for the red and gold army had a message for the fans too. “We will give our 100 per cent and fight for every ball. Anything can happen in football, but we will leave no stone unturned to bring a smile to your faces. Joy East Bengal!”