The East Bengal tactician also shed light on the poor home performances of the side.

After a lacklustre away game against Hyderabad last week in which the team lost 2-0, East Bengal are set to take the pitch again on Friday. This time the Red & Golds will face Mumbai City. Mumbai is in a dream run with no loss to their name yet, while East Bengal have not been able to register a single home win so far in the league. Thus, it will interesting to see whether Stephen Constantine’s side can change their home fortune on Friday and hand down Mumbai their first defeat of the season.

A day before the game, East Bengal head coach Stephen Constantine and forward Cleiton Silva addressed a press conference in Kolkata.

Some of the statements by the coach and the player are as follows.

Difference between the present Mumbai City team and the one they faced in Durand Cup

East Bengal defeated Mumbai City in a Durand Cup group stage fixture back in August by a margin of 4-3. In reference to that game, Constantine stated that the situation and the league are completely different now than what it was back then. He said:

“Mumbai City is playing league matches now. Before that, Durand Cup was a four-match tournament. I think most of the teams used that tournament as a pre-season friendly (tournament). We certainly did. When we played them, we had 3-4 foreigners. It was a decent game. Now, everything is different. The atmosphere, the intensity – you cannot compare the time then and the time now. It is very different, plus they are unbeaten. It will be a very difficult game.”

On Mumbai City’s strengths

Stephen Constantine expressed his thoughts on what makes Mumbai such a strong and consistent side. He said, “They have got lots of money, which allows them to make better choices. When you have the ability to bring in whoever you want, it is a big bonus. They are playing very well, they have some very good players. But, we will fight them like we fight everybody.”

On East Bengal’s poor run so far

Stephen Constantine iterated that despite being in the eighth place in the points table, his team has not been completely outplayed by any other team so far in the league. He gave reasons for the same:

“I don’t think we have been outplayed or destroyed by any team. We have been unfortunate, we have made some poor mistakes, we have not done certain things to the best of our ability and we have paid for those mistakes. You have seen us being competitive in all games. We are a difficult team to beat. Sometimes, we have beaten ourselves. We knew that it would be like this this season. We will continue to improve and see what happens.”

On poor home performance

Stephen Constantine shared the reasons for his team not being able to perform well in home games. At the same time, he asked the fans to keep their patience and support the team through thick and thin. He said:

“There are a number of reasons. When you play in front of 72,000 people, it is a fantastic atmosphere and you have seen how we played in such games. But in other games, we played mostly in front of 10,000 or 6,000 people. The fans are very demanding, they want success straightaway and get upset early.

He added, “We need them on our side, both in good times and bad times. Everybody makes mistakes. Even if a player makes a mistake, we need to back him. All I want from the fans is to encourage the players as we learn from our mistakes and keep getting better.”

Cleiton on playing home games and the overall development of the team

Cleiton Silva expressed his thoughts on playing home games in front of fans. He also urged the fans to come to the stadium in numbers in every game. He stated:

“I think it is always special to play in front of home supporters. But sometimes, the pitch is so big that 18,000-20,000 people are not enough for the ground. We need our supporters to make more noise and come in numbers for every game and not only for the derby. For the last two seasons, this team has won a handful of matches. This year, we have already won three games. I think the team still needs to improve. We still need to prove ourselves. But I don’t think it is easy to improve in one day, it is not magic.”

The forward added, “If you see the top clubs of India, like Mumbai City, most of their players are together for around three years. We have not seen too many changes in Mumbai, Hyderabad, or ATK Mohun Bagan. They can bring the best players that they want. They have money for that. When you have this power, it is easier to change one player with another and keep producing the same result. But we still don’t have such opportunities.”

Cleiton’s thoughts on Mumbai City

Cleiton expressed his thoughts on Mumbai City’s squad and the side’s gameplay. He pointed out a few weaknesses of the Islanders that East Bengal might be able to take advantage of. He stated:

“I think Mumbai always plays a very open game. The basic structure of the team is such that they play with a very high backline. All the players play very high. They try to push up and press. With our fast players like Mahesh or Suhair, we can hurt them.”

The Brazilian continued, “We will try to be quick with our counter-attacks. As we know, Mumbai has been playing in this way for the last three years since the time of Sergio Lobera. They play very high-pressing football and try to play the ball from the back. They also try to press high when they lose the ball. So, I think, if we can connect two or three good passes, we can hurt them.”

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