Bhaichung Bhutia has taken sides with ATK Mohun Bagan ahead of the first Kolkata derby in the history of the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL).
On November 27, both new entrants- ATK Mohun Bagan and SC East Bengal- will lock horns at the Tilak Maidan Stadium in Vasco, and Bhutia, who has featured for both the Kolkata clubs in his playing days, believes Antonio Lopez Habas’ side has a slight edge going into the contest.
“ATK Mohun Bagan are much better prepared and Habas is known for not changing things too much," www.indiansuperleague.com wrote quoting Bhaichung Bhutia.
"He has been in Indian football for a long time now, so he has a very good idea about both Indian and foreign players," the former Indian captain said.
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"I think East Bengal won’t be too far behind because Robbie Fowler has his own set of good, experienced foreign players," he said.
"These players would know the demands and the systems under Fowler. It’s about the Indian players settling down well and coping with the system," Bhutia added.
“I think yes, right now, on paper ATKMB are the favourites. And it’s also happening in Goa because when you play in Kolkata, the pressure and passion are at such a different level that there are no favourites then," the Indian football legend told hindustantimes.com.
"But I can see East Bengal doing very well too. For them, if they can beat Mohun Bagan in their first match, it will set the season up really well,” Bhaichung Bhutia further added.
Bhaichung Bhutia donned the Indian blue for more than one and a half decades and he believes that that the inclusion of SC East Bengal and ATK Mohun Bagan will go a long way towards facilitating the growth of Indian players on multiple counts.
“…With [ATK] Mohun Bagan and East Bengal coming in to the ISL this year, it’s fascinating, but you don’t get to see the two clubs playing in Kolkata," he said.
"At the same time, it’s just about being patient. Next year, we will get to see these two clubs playing in Kolkata and all the other clubs coming to play against them are going to get a very difficult time from the crowd," he added.
"Indian players need to experience that. They need to feel that excitement and pressure in away games; it will help them quite a lot,” he said.
Bhaichung Bhutia expects ATK Mohun Bagan and Bengaluru FC to do well, however, in the case of FC Goa, he has some doubts.
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