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Bagan feel the heat ahead of the big one

sports Updated: Dec 09, 2012 01:06 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
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Only when the players were leaving the pitch did the mood lift at Mohun Bagan. The general secretary had been riled by caustic comments from fans about Mohun Bagan's insipid show in the I-League and ordered them out.

A muted show of disapproval snowballed into vociferous protesting for news channel hounds but quickly transformed into back-slapping Mohun Bagan players and exhorting them as they threaded past the small gathering towards the dressing room.

By the time, the police arrived, the scene was as normal as it would be on the morning before the season's first local derby. But lasting a little less than half-time, the episode encapsulated how with East Bengal looming large things were at Mohun Bagan.

Up against a team that has conceded only once in nine games, have been undefeated since May and are firmly in the leading pack, Mohun Bagan are feeling the heat.

Three games old in his second stint, Mohun Bagan coach Karim Bencherifa mentioned a "sense of stability" that is reaping dividends for East Bengal.

Across the road a little later, East Bengal coach Trevor Morgan said it would be pointless to deny that the season's first local derby is a clash between a settled team and one not quite so.

Both Morgan and Bencherifa agreed that none of that would matter in the context of Sunday's super-charged game in front of an expected crowd of 100,000.

"We are not taking anything for granted. Tomorrow's is an equal contest," said Morgan after the final training session on Saturday. This was after Bencherifa had pointed out that a team with its back to the wall is always dangerous.

While Mohun Bagan look like a sick bay with Tolgay Ozbey and Celestine Aniyiche unavailable and a slew of players who will have to play through pain - among them Syed Rahim Nabi.