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ISL 2020-21: Derby frenzy over, real test ahead for East Bengal now


The Red and Golds will have to overcome the Kolkata derby blues and concentrate on the future matches…

East Bengal did not have as a good a start to their Indian Super League (ISL) as they would have hoped for after they went down 0-2 against arch-rivals ATK Mohun Bagan in the league’s first-ever Kolkata derby.

Robbie Fowler’s East Bengal were good in patches and showed promise despite the defeat. It has to be said that with lesser preparation time than other ISL clubs and limited resources in hand, the English coach looks to have put together a competitive unit.

There are a lot of positives to take from the derby – they showed brilliance in patches. Also, Four out of the five overseas recruits who took the field were impressive, with former Norwich City winger Anthony Pilkington showing his credentials. The Irish attacker was versatile and was a threat to the ATK Mohun Bagan defence throughout. 

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The Red and Golds now need to shrug off their derby blues and focus on the season, starting with an encounter against Mumbai City on Tuesday. Fowler wants his players to buck up and change the mood of the camp with three points in their next outing.

“Any time you play football, whenever you get beaten, you can’t wait for the next game to try and rectify that. I hope the result isn’t behind the players (players’ minds). What can happen now is you can turn that disappointment (of the derby defeat) into joy by producing a better result,” said the Liverpool great.

One of the concerns in this East Bengal squad is their Indian contingent. There is a dearth of in-form domestic players in their roster and their attack looks lightweight.

Balwant Singh, East Bengal

But the East Bengal manager trusts his players and will hope they find some form as the matches start rolling in.

Sergio Lobera’s Mumbai City looked rusty in their first two outings and have not been as dominating as fans expected them to be. The squad is yet to settle down and this could be the right time for Kolkata giants to pounce and get a result.

Three points against the Islanders will do a world of good to the team’s confidence and will help them settle quickly.

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