In the A-League last season, Brad Inman was one of the regular starters for Brisbane Roars, a club managed by Robbie Fowler. But come Friday, their relationship will matter for nothing when East Bengal take on ATK Mohun Bagan in the Indian Super League’s (ISL) first Kolkata Derby.
Inman is yet to take the field in ISL 2020-21 - he didn’t feature in ATK Mohun Bagan’s season-opening match against Kerala Blasters FC. Robbie Fowler, meanwhile, will make his ISL debut as the coach of East Bengal in the Kolkata Derby.
“Fowler and I were together last season, but we are opponents now,” Inman told PTI. “He is a great coach. But on Friday during those 90 minutes, he will be my opponent. I want to defeat him at any cost. I am mentally prepared.”
The Roars were in dire straits in the A-League, having finished a lowly ninth among 10 teams in the 2018-19 season.
It’s after this that Liverpool great Fowler was recruited. During the 2019-20 A-League campaign, Robbie Fowler led the Brisbane Roars to a fourth-place finish in his debut season in Australia.
But with the COVID-19 hurting the A-League financially, Robbie Fowler was among a clutch of stars who chose to move to India this season.
While Brad Inman joined the Mariners for his maiden ISL season, Robbie Fowler is accompanied by Roars’ Scott Neville at East Bengal.
Though not much is known about how a Robbie Fowler-coached side will shape up in ISL 2020-21, one of ATK Mohun Bagan’s star centre-back Tiri is banking on the knowledge he has on the Indian football players in the side.
“I do not know the foreign players who will play in the derby. They haven’t played a match yet. However, I have played the ISL for six years. Players like Balwant Singh and Jeje Lalpekhlua are known to me. They are good football players,” the Spaniard Tiri said.
“A derby match is always difficult. My goal is to return to the dressing room with three points and try to keep our goal intact,” Tiri added.
Though ATK Mohun Bagan won their season-opener against Kerala Blasters by a solitary goal, their performance was far from convincing. With wayward passes and lack of cohesiveness evident in their play, it needed a moment for brilliance from their star striker Roy Krishna to help them win the tie.
However, their creative midfielder Edu Garcia was not keen on reading too much into their opening match performance.
“As we won the match against Kerala Blasters, we can be more confident for the derby. It is important to win the first match in any competition. Now we are preparing for Derby. The team will be more organised as the competition progresses,” Garcia said.
Lead image: ATK Mohun Bagan/ Facebook