East Bengal will take on Bengaluru FC at the Vivekananda Yuva Bharati Krirangan in an ISL fixture on Friday.

The second-leg fixture between East Bengal and Bengaluru FC is slated to take place on Friday at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata in ISL. With both sides having a poor season and languishing at the bottom half of the table, none of the teams will start the game as clear favourites. While Bengaluru has a star-studded squad, East Bengal will be vouching on home support to get through the game. One day prior to the game, East Bengal head coach Stephen Constantine and midfielder Jordan O’Doherty attended the pre-match press conference in Kolkata on Thursday. The duo talked about the team’s performance so far and what fans can expect from the team going forward.

Edited excerpts from the conference are as follows.

On the team’s target for the next game

On being asked what is the target of the team for the game against Bengaluru, Constantine said that they are thinking of nothing but three points. He said:

“Our target is three points from every game. We want to win every game that we apply, that is normal. We fight, but sometimes it is not enough. But obviously, we try to win every game we play. Thus, our target will be three points.”

On the team winning only three games out of their 10 games

Constantine expressed his reaction to the team winning only three games out of their 10 games. He did not hide his dissatisfaction with such a low win rate and stated that the team is working hard to change this trend. He stated:

“I am not happy with only three wins from 10 games. I think we should have had more points. We had opportunities in certain games to earn more points. But here we are with three wins from 10 games. It is not good enough for East Bengal. All of us know the problems that we have had. We are trying very hard to improve the team. We are working very hard in training. In most weeks, the training is good and the players are working very hard. There is no lack of effort from the players. The effort is there. Maybe, it is that the ability is not there or there are too many mistakes, but the boys are giving everything in training and in games. Sometimes, it is good enough and sometimes it is not.”

On whether winning the first-leg game against Bengaluru will provide the team with added confidence for Friday’s fixture

Constantine did not hide his emotion while stating that the memory of winning their first-leg fixture against Bengaluru FC will definitely give the team some confidence going into the game. He also said that his team needs to be cautious against Bengaluru as they will looking for points in Kolkata. He said:

“Knowing that we can beat a team as Bengaluru gives us confidence. We are playing at home and we would want the crowd behind us because they will give us the encouragement to play. But Bengaluru is hurt. They lost their last game. They are going to come here and try to get three points. They have a few good players. So, it will be a tough game. As I have said, there are no easy games in ISL, at least not for us.”

Coach’s assessment of the team with the first half of the league being over

Constantine expressed how he thinks of the team after the end of the season’s first half. He admitted that the team could be better, while at the same time he asserted that his team has played good football in most of their games. He said:

“Definitely, the team could be better. Definitely, we could do more. The effort has been there, but sometimes the effort has not been good enough. So, at the moment, we are better than how we were but not as good as we can be. I want the team to be as good as it can be if we want to be a top-six team in this league. Looking at the previous two seasons, this season is already different from the last two as we have won more games than we did in the last two seasons. But, for a club with the size of East Bengal, that is not good enough. We need to be better.”

The tactician continued, “We are doing things that are gonna make us better. We need to work. Everyone else is also working. I think we have not done enough in the last two years to be in a position to say that we are a top-six team. At the moment, we are not, but we are working to become a top-six team. It takes a little bit of time. It will take some time but we will get there.”

On how close the team is to achieve its goals for the season, especially with the season’s first half being over

Constantine expressed how close the team is to achieving its first-half targets. He also talked about the team’s targets going into the second half of the league. He stated:

“One of the first things that I told was we will not finish in the last place. I also said that we will win more than one game. We have done both. Are we where I want to be? Absolutely not. We want to be in the top six. I think if we had had a little bit more time, we would have made fewer mistakes. I won’t say we would be in the top six (by the season’s end), but we will be definitely closer to the top six than we are at the moment.”

The head coach added, “There are 30 points still remaining. As Jordan said, we have played well in eight out of our 10 games. Maybe, from five of those games, we should have gotten more points. We know what we can do as we have played some good football. We just need to ensure that we play good football in all three phases, with the ball, without the ball, and in transitions. We have 30 points to play for and we will try to get all those 30 points.”

Jordan on the team’s collective mentality going forward into the second half of the league

Jordan said to the presser that going forward to the second half of the league, they will take inspiration from the way the side has played so far. He gave reasons for his opinion and highlighted the fact that in many games, the side was better but lost points due to silly mistakes. He said:

“I think in this league there is no easy game. We have also proved that there is no hard game either. I can count two games where we were not the better team. In a lot of games, I feel we deserved more. Knowing that we can put up a good performance in front of some of the best sides in the league will only give us confidence for the second half of the season.”

“I would be a lot more worried if we played the first half of the season terribly. As a player on the pitch, I can feel when it is going good and when it is going bad. In many games, for big parts of the games, we had been a better side than our opponents. This will give us confidence heading into the second half of the season. We know that we are capable of winning. I believe we can win any game of football that we will be playing. We were not the best that we wanted to be, but we were definitely not the worst.”

For more updates, follow Khel Now on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube and join our community on Telegram.