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Indian Super League

East Bengal's Arindam Bhattacharya - Daniel Chima will be a big surprise for the ISL

09:34 EAT 26/11/2021
Arindam Bhattacharya, East Bengal
The East Bengal skipper rates ATK Mohun Bagan talisman Roy Krishna as one of the best strikers in ISL...

Seasoned Bengali custodian Arindam Bhattacharya will be leading East Bengal in the big-ticket Kolkata derby clash against arch-rivals ATK Mohun Bagan on Saturday at the Tilak Maidan in Goa.

Bhattacharya, who had won the 'Golden Glove' award in the 2020-21 season as ATK Mohun Bagan goalkeeper, has changed his allegiance this season to the Red and Golds. He has also been handed the captain's armband.

Ahead of the big game, Bhattacharya realises the importance of remaining calm amidst all the euphoria of the match.

What did Arindam Bhattacharya say?

"Derby is always special. It's an achievement for a sportsman to play in a derby. Of course, there is a lot of excitement but I have to remain calm to have a good game, I have to find the balance. So I am preparing myself while trying to find a balance between excitement and calmness.

"I will be representing the Red and Golds for the first time in the derby. So, I hope, I start my journey well and hope to keep a clean sheet. That will be my target. ," Bhattacharya told Goal.

Playing in a Kolkata derby is a battle of nerves and appearing in such a big game in just the second match of the season is even tougher. But the East Bengal skipper is not worried about that as he feels that they had to face the Mariners at some point of the season.

"I don't think playing the derby in the second match of the season will be a problem. We had to play them at some point in time, whether it's the first match or the second," suggested the experienced goalkeeper.

He continued, "Saying that I know that Mohun Bagan played in the AFC Cup. They are training for a long time and they have played together for three years. We are also a new team and a good team. We have prepared well and I don't think there will be much difference. In my opinion, I don't think we will face any problem."

The Red and Golds had a disappointing debut campaign last season as they finished ninth among 11 teams. Their defence in particular did not garner many praises as they leaked 33 goals, the third-worst record in the league.

But Bhattacharya refused to believe that defence was a problem for the club last season.

"First of all, it's your version that East Bengal had a bad defence. I don't believe that because of whatever little time East Bengal got to prepare last season. And the way they prepared themselves in the short period and the way they played (is commendable).

'Chima will be the best striker in the league'

While the veteran custodian tagged opposition's Roy Krishna as the best forward in the league, he also suggested that East Bengal's new recruit, Nigerian forward Daniel Chima will be a surprise package for the entire league.

"Luckily for me, the deadliest striker I considered till now was with me in the same team. Maybe I have faced him more than anybody else. Because I used to face Roy Krishna every day in training. Opponents used to face him in matches, and now I will actually face him in matches.

"But this year I feel, Chima is going to be a big addition to the league. He has adapted very quickly to the conditions and I think he will be a big surprise for the league. He will be the best striker in the league now," said Bhattacharya.

Watch the full interview here: