The head coach also shed light on the team’s fighting spirit.

East Bengal will play their sixth game of the season against Bengaluru FC on the upcoming Friday (11th November) at the Sri Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru. The Red & Golds have won only one match out of their five games. They are languishing in the 10th position on the points table with just three points. Before their departure for Bengaluru, East Bengal head coach Stephen Constantine and defender Charalambos Kyriakou addressed the pre-match press conference in Kolkata.

Excerpts from the conference are as follows.

Constantine on many first-XI players missing

As per reports, East Bengal will miss the services of Alex Lima, Sarthak Golui, Souvik Chakrabarti, and Aniket Jadhav in their clash against Bengaluru. On being asked about how it will affect the team, Stephen Constantine said this is a part of a football team as players are bound to get injured or sick.

He said, “You cannot help when players are sick. This is not something that is in control. This is why we have 24-25 players. As for Bengaluru, all the games are big games for us. There are no easy games. We will proceed with the players that are available. I cannot do more than that.”

On the team’s preparation for playing Bengaluru FC

Constantine emphasised the fact that Bengaluru is a strong side with a big budget. They have a set team whose nucleus did not change much over the years. Then he talked about his own team’s preparation for the game.

He stated, “They have one of the biggest budgets in the league. They have a settled team. Bengaluru has a new coach and Simon has good experience. They will be a difficult team. As with all the teams in ISL, there are no easy games. I don’t know why people think there are easy games. The game against NorthEast was not an easy game. When you win, it is okay. But, just before halftime, they hit the crossbar. Kamaljit made a fantastic save. In the end, we won.

He continued, “It might have looked easy from the score, but you have to fight, you have to play, and you have to train hard. One thing that I would like to say about this team is that the team spirit is very good. Everybody looks after each other. The fighting spirit is there.”

The tactician added, “Have we been good in all of our games? No, we have not. And I don’t expect that we are going to be in fourth place for 20 ISL games. No, it’s not possible. We are new, we are fresh, and we are trying very hard to build the foundation of the future. For me, the players have given everything in every game. I think I am very happy with the attitude of the players in training and in games. I can’t ask for more in that department. What we can do is make fewer mistakes and try and correct the mistakes.”

On his approach to tackling Bengaluru FC

Stephen Constantine discussed the special preparations that his team has made for the game against Bengaluru FC. He said, “We prepare in different ways for playing against different teams because there are different problems and different solutions. They have different players. We have a match report on the opposition. We study them and what they do and we know what they are going to do.

He added, “The question is, how can we stop them? And then how do we play our game? We have a particular style of playing. We don’t want to change too many things for what the other team does. You want them to change for you. It is an individual process. So, next week, for the game against Odisha, we will prepare in a separate way.”

Constantine’s message to East Bengal supporters

Stephen Constantine reiterated his claim that they will need some time before East Bengal can unleash its true potential. He also believes that once the team hits its peak, it will become a very difficult side to play against. He said, “I came here knowing that it is going to be a tough job. Maybe the toughest job I have ever had in my coaching career. But I came because I believe in East Bengal. I believe there is potential. I believe in the team’s earnestness and I believe that we can be great at the game.

He continued, “But, we have a lot of work to do. It does not happen overnight. That’s what I need the fans to understand. We are going to get there. We are going to give them the success that they want. But, they need to give us their support and time. We cannot go from winning one game out of 20 games to winning 10 games out of 20. How does that happen? Things need to change. Attitudes need to change. Players need to change. Coaches need to change. We have sacked 10 coaches in four years. Think about that!”

On how he assesses the club’s performance in the games so far

Stephen Constantine claimed that all of East Bengal’s games so far have been close encounters with the side showing grit in tough situations. He said, “We have not been destroyed by anybody. We are not losing 4-0 or 5-0. All the games (of East Bengal) have been relatively close. It means that we are in the right way. If we were losing 5-0, 4-0, or did not have any shots on target or no opportunities, then I will say it is time for me to go already.

“Yes, the games have been close. But as I said earlier, we have to eliminate some of the self-made mistakes. In the last game, we were very poor with passing and movement. Our movement was not good. Our shape was not good. I think the game against Chennaiyin was our worst game so far. We are going to fix that on Friday,” asserted the tactician.

Kyriakou on tackling Bengaluru FC

Charalambos Kyriakou attened the press conference alongside tactician Stephen Constantine. The defender threw light on how the team’s preparation has been before the Bengaluru FC match. He said, “As the coach said, before a big game there is an analysis of their (opposition’s) players. So, the players will know about the opposition’s current team, strengths, and weaknesses. So, we need to analyse them and prepare mentally about who we are going to face. We need to be ready when the game starts. We know about their movement and tactics. So, we will try to stop them.”

Kyriakou’s overall assessment of his team

Kyriakou briefly talked about how they are working in daily training sessions and his overall assessment of the side. He said, “As the coach said, it needs time to build a team. If you watch world football, you will understand this. We are a work in progress and we are not a finished product yet. So, we need to understand that.”

The Cypriot added, “Everyone here, in East Bengal, wants to win. This is true for both the fans and the players. We want to win every game, which is evident in our everyday training sessions. But, for winning, there are many factors. It is not easy to win or change the mentality of players overnight. This is something that needs time to happen. So, we need to be more patient. I know that the fans are not patient. I understand this because I have played in big teams. But, in order to get there, we need to push more and we need to fight hard.”

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