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Not interested in one point, want all three, says Stephen Constantine

Published at :October 28, 2022 at 10:22 PM
Modified at :December 13, 2023 at 1:01 PM
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(Courtesy : EB Media)

Souvari Paul

This will be ISL's first Kolkata derby in front of fans.

The big day of Indian football calendar is here. The first Kolkata Derby of ISL 2022-23 is all set to take place on Saturday at the Salt Lake Stadium. It will be a sold out crowd at Salt Lake on the day, with fans of both clubs thronging the stadium to cheer for their side. Both ATK Mohun Bagan and the East Bengal have won their last games in comprehensive manner, thus, building more hype around the coveted fixture. Winning this game provides a set of Bengalis bragging rights over another set as it is a game of pride and passion running back to the 1920s. Ahead of the game, East Bengal head coach Stephen Constantine and forward Cleiton Silva addressed the pre-match press conference.

Here are some of the excerpts from the same.

Constantine on how he is approaching the derby

Stephen Constantine informed about how he and his team are approaching the derby match. He briefly talked about the significance of the fixture in general and then elaborated their approach to the game. He said, "The Kolkata Derby is the biggest game in the Indian football calendar. It is a special game. So, we are very excited to face ATK Mohun Bagan. We expect a very tough game.

He added, "We will try to take the points. We are here to win football games. It is a derby. Your form goes out of the window in derby games. We have had a good week of training and I expect us to give a good account of ourselves."

The tactician further said, "I am not interested in one point. I want all three points and I am pretty sure that they do as well. You don't go into a derby game not trying to win it. I think it is important to highlight that. Everybody wants to win. All the players, all the staff, and all the fans of both teams. We will try to win this game as that's how you play this game."

On the team's progress in the last two months

While talking about his team's present condition, Stephen Constantine said that they have made significant improvement from where they began two months back. He further elucidated on this view. The mentor stated, "We have made tremendous improvements since the day we began with 12 players on a rainy morning. I think we are a better team today than how we were when we played Mohun Bagan in the Durand Cup. Of course it is a league match, so both the teams need the three points."

He continued, "There's also the question of bragging rights and pride that goes with the Kolkata Derby. I am aware that we have not won a derby for around eight or nine games. So, we are going to try and fix that tomorrow night. As I have said before, they (ATK Mohun Bagan) are a very good side with some excellent players. We respect them but we do not fear them or anybody else in this league. We have a group of players who will run and who will fight nonstop."

Also Read: Preview: East Bengal eye first ISL derby win over ATK Mohun Bagan

How Constantine views the Kolkata Derby

In reply to a question asking how he views the Kolkata Derby, the East Bengal tactician asserted that it is biggest football rivalry in Asia. He said, "I remember the first time the derby was played in Kolkata. There were not enough seats or place to stand inside the stadium to fit the number of people. It was an unbelievable atmosphere.

He added, "I think it is one of the biggest derbies in the world. And you put it up there with derbies like Arsenal-Tottenham, Rangers-Celtic, and AC Milan-Inter Milan. It is the biggest derby in Asia. That's for sure. I would love to have played in it. But, I will take coaching in it. This is my second derby and I am looking forward to my first win in the derby."

On whether it is helpful to have coaching experience in the Kolkata Derby

On being asked whether it is of help to have prior experience of coaching in a Kolkata Derby, Constantine said that prior experience does not work in this fixture. He said, "No, it is not. Every derby is special and unique. We will approach the game in a professional manner. We have done our homework on ATK Mohun Bagan. Tomorrow, after the 7:30 kick off, we will see what happens."

Views on Himanshu Jangra

Himanshu Jangra recently played for the U-20 national team in the 2023 AFC U-20 Asian Cup qualifiers, where his performance received praise from multiple sources. Jangra being an East Bengal player, Stephen Constantine was asked to give his opinion on the youngster. The tactician said that he believes that Jangra is a promising young player, but he needs to go a long way.

He said, "I think he is a promising young Indian player. He is 18/19 (years old). In India, we will say he is young. I would say he is not young. At 18, he should have 200/300 games under his belt. He does not. And this is the biggest problem we have with our Indian players, especially the ones who are playing for the national team."

"We play 28 games with the Durand Cup (in a season). It is not enough, especially for the young players. Jangra, I think, is going to be a good player. But he needs games and experience. Unfortunately, at this stage, it seems difficult to see from where he will get those games unless he is playing in the first XI in ISL or in the I-League. But, definitely he is a promising player," the 60-year-old added.

On how the last match's win has affected the team's morale

Stephen Constantine said that their win against NorthEast United was important not only because the following match is the derby, but more because of the three points that the team received by winning the game. He said, "I don't think we played tremendous football in the last game. I thought we did okay. We won the game and that's the main thing. We had moments where we played some good football, as with Goa and with Kerala Blasters.

"Tomorrow we will have to play good football for 90 minutes. It is a completely different scenario tomorrow because it is the derby. We are facing ATK Mohun Bagan. They are a good side. If we not play the way we can play, they will punish us. We have to be very careful. We are aware of their strengths and their weaknesses and we will try to exploit them," he added.

Also Read: ATK Mohun Bagan Vs East Bengal: Key battles that will determine the winners in Kolkata Derby

Coach's message to fans

Stephen Constantine urged the East Bengal supporters to come to the stadium in large numbers and cheer for the side. He said, "Make some noise. Come and support the team and just make noise. There are not too many places where you get such an atmosphere (atmosphere of the derby). So, I want them to enjoy the game and to be safe."

Cleiton on changes in both the teams from their Durand Cup fixture to ISL

Cleiton Silva believes that both ATK Mohun Bagan and East Bengal are much better and more prepared than they were during their previous meeting. He also believes that this derby will be more interesting than the Durand Cup one.

He said, "Before the first game we had only one week (to prepare). I arrived at the club three or four days before our first match of the season. Some other players arrived late as well. Now, we are preparing together for around two months. I think we are more prepared. Even they (ATK Mohun Bagan) must also be more prepared. I believe tomorrow will be an interesting game for both sides."

Cleiton's view on ATK Mohun Bagan

Cleiton thinks that ATK Mohun Bagan is a very good team with some of the best footballers of the Indian football circuit. At the same time, he believes that chances of winning tomorrow's match for both the sides is 50-50. He said, "I think they are a good side. They have good players, maybe some of the best players in India. But the game is 50-50. In the last match (Durand Cup derby), we lost 1-0. We tried to win but in the end we lost by an own goal. Tomorrow we are facing them to win the game."