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Sporting Bengal United boss Imrul Gazi's excited to host Clapton and their Ultras in East End

PUBLISHED: 15:00 18 August 2016

Sporting Bengal United manager Imrul Gazi gives instructions from the touchline (pic: Sporting Bengal United).

Sporting Bengal United manager Imrul Gazi gives instructions from the touchline (pic: Sporting Bengal United).

Archant

Two local rivals do battle in the FA Cup and it could be an exciting game for all of east London

Sporting Bengal United manager Imrul Gazi is looking forward to another excellent occasion in the FA Cup when Clapton make the trip to the Mile End Stadium.

The two Essex Senior League rivals go head-to-head in the preliminary round of the famous, old competition after Clapton progressed by beating local rivals London Bari 3-1.

Bengal needed a replay in Suffolk to see off Ipswich Wanderers 2-0 – having drawn the first clash 0-0.

And Gazi knows the visitors will be favourites to reach the first qualifying round, but is excited about the derby date.

He said: “Again, most people aren’t expecting us to do anything in the game and we’ll be underdogs.

“We need to enjoy the match and occasion. Clapton have an amazing group of supporters so I told the lads to expect a brilliant atmosphere.

“It’s great to be playing our rivals, although we do have a lot of friends at the club and I know their assistant Andre Thomas.

“I’ve met him a few times and he’s a nice guy, plus I’m familiar with a few of the Ultras as well and this match is all about the East End so I can’t wait.”

Clapton’s fans have helped increase the awareness of the Essex Senior League with their incredible support of the Tons.

For their opening fixture of the campaign, 421 people packed into the Old Spotted Dog – a huge contrast compared to most other clubs who have an average attendance of under 100.

Gazi added: “The Ultras have put the Essex Senior League on the map and they seem to be the talk of non-league football.

“I watched the London Bari vs Clapton game in the FA Cup and when a few players miskicked the ball, they didn’t hold back!

“But I think they are great and I know a few of them because they did a pre-season tournament this summer and we took a Sporting Bengal team.

“It didn’t include any first-teamers, but it was a brilliant occasion. I know they do so much good charity work for the homeless and refugees and that’s close to my heart so I have so much respect for them.”

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