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Kalinga Super Cup

Most important thing is to win the final, asserts East Bengal boss Carles Cuadrat ahead of Kalinga Super Cup final

Published at :January 27, 2024 at 6:49 PM
Modified at :January 27, 2024 at 6:49 PM
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Uttiyo Sarkar

Carles Cuadrat praised Sergio Lobera’s Odisha FC.

East Bengal FC aim to win their first piece of silverware in the Carles Cuadrat era when they face off against a high-flying Odisha FC side in the Kalinga Super Cup 2024 final at the Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar on Sunday (January 28).

The Red & Gold Brigaders are well aware that winning this game will guarantee them qualification into an AFC Asian continental competition next season.

East Bengal FC head coach Carles Cuadrat spoke to the media ahead of the Kalinga Super Cup final game against Sergio Lobera’s Odisha FC.

Cuadrat on East Bengal mood heading into Super Cup final

Cuadrat is pleased with the mood and atmosphere within his squad ahead of this crunch battle, as he said ahead of the clash: “It’s a very good sensation we have within the club. We have been fighting for a long time for results and the results haven’t been happening. It’s very important for us to be in another final. But of course, the most important thing is to win the final. We couldn’t win the first one, but we’ll try our best to get the result tomorrow. It’s been very positive for the players to play here together during the Super Cup. The organization of the Super Cup in Odisha has been perfect, be it the training facilities, the stadium and the hotel. It was a fantastic tournament to play and I’m very happy to have reached the final.”

Are East Bengal playing the final in the best possible situation?

When asked whether East Bengal are in the best situation possible to face this Odisha side – which hasn’t lost a competitive game since October – the Spaniard explained: “I think the team is in a very good dynamic of results, which is very important to have consistency in performances. But it’s the same with Odisha, they haven’t lost in a long streak of games too. Unfortunately, one of the two teams is going to lose so the unbeaten dynamic will be broken somewhere. We always say in football, when you are unbeaten you are getting closer to the game where you will lose.

“It’s the same when you are losing, one day you are going to win. Yes, the dynamics are very positive for both teams and we know how difficult it will be. The last match that Odisha didn’t get a win and didn’t concede was against us in the ISL, in the draw at the Salt Lake Stadium one month ago. After that, they have won six games in a row and in their last nine games, they have kept a clean sheet against seven teams – so that shows how strong their defensive system is. It’ll be a very difficult game for us.

“But at the same time, we are scoring goals every game and it’s important us to to play with six foreigners as it gives us more chances in attack. Also, the solidity of Hijazi (Maher) and Pardo in defence is helping us to get the results. So both teams are in a very special moment and I’m happy to play another big match against a coach like Sergio Lobera because he’s a great tactical coach and there will be always something special happening in the match in terms of tactics.”

Cuadrat’s experiences with Cup Finals in India

The Kalinga Super Cup final will also mark six years after Cuadrat was able to guide his ex-team, Bengaluru FC, to win the first-ever Super Cup by defeating East Bengal in the final. Speaking about his experiences with cup finals in India, Cuadrat stated: “It was another moment in another time, the last time East Bengal played in the Super Cup final. I’m quite lucky here in India as I’ve been part of all the finals. It’s a new experience because to win a final, you need to lose sometimes before to get ready for the pressure and situation of a final. A lot of things happen in a final and it’s difficult for everyone to control their emotions. In a lot of finals I’ve been participating in Indian football I’ve been part of is good as it means the work is giving results.

“That moment (in 2018) when I was in Bengaluru, it’s true that we had a very competitive team and we started in a kind of momentum that we were, I feel personally, the best team in the country and also in FC Goa – Sergio Lobera was in Goa at that time. It was a good team, both (Bengaluru and Goa) were dominant in the competitions and both fought for the regular leagues and reached finals. Personally, I’m very happy to be here again in a final and have the coincidence that it’ll happen again with Lobera – I’m sure he’s building a winning project in Odisha and I’m hoping that at East Bengal we’re also doing that and building something for the future,” he also claimed.

Could refereeing play a part against Odisha?

Upon being questioned on if he’s worried about the final being influenced by controversial refereeing after what happened in the Odisha FC-Mumbai City semi-final, Cuadrat stated: “We have to let the referees do their jobs, not put pressure on them. We hope that we won’t have to talk about referees at the end of the game and there aren’t that many incidents that change the result of the game. If we are lucky, both teams, and if there are not a lot of things happening, it’ll be good for football.”

How East Bengal recovered from set-backs to reach Super Cup summit

Finally, Cuadrat explained the long way East Bengal have come from losing the Durand Cup and finding the ‘solutions’ after going on a losing streak in the Indian Super League (ISL) earlier this season. He said: “Unfortunately, we didn’t win the Durand Cup but we won’t give excuses. We’ll try to find solutions and fortunately, we have gotten to another final. I consider that we’re working well, we’ve played 20 official games until now and have won 10 of them. We’ve also drawn six times, so it’s only four losses in 20 games. It’s quite a good number.

Unfortunately, we had a bad part in the season when we lost three in a row and were conceding points in the ISL due to results of 2-1 or something like that. That was a difficult moment, we, struggled a little bit, but we got the solution to that and are in a new dynamic. We don’t have to find excuses, we lost those three games as we didn’t do the right things.

“We have a lot of analysis and talks with the players, that was not a football problem but a mentality problem. Because one good dynamic can help you in a positive situation and one bad dynamic can hurt you a lot, as a player. It was difficult to change the dynamic, but finally, we got that done, and I think now the players are showing another way to play the game on the pitch. Now the mentality is very positive, so far after six months of work, being in different situations we can say the team is growing as a whole unit,” the Spaniard finished with.

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