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ISL- Indian Super League

NEUFC's third goal was turning point, says East Bengal boss Carles Cuadrat

Published at :February 10, 2024 at 10:33 PM
Modified at :February 10, 2024 at 10:33 PM
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(Courtesy : ISL Media)

Uttiyo Sarkar


East Bengal boss Carles Cuadrat also shed light on Lalchungnunga’s recent run of form.

East Bengal’s six-game unbeaten run in the Indian Super League (ISL) was snapped as they went down fighting in a 3-2 loss to NorthEast United on Saturday (February 10). Goals from Nandhakumar Sekar (53’) and debutant Felicio Brown (83’) were not enough, as a Tomi Juric brace (4’, 66’) and a goal from Nestor Albiach (15’) were enough to give the Highlanders the win.

Cuadrat reflects on the loss

The Red & Gold Brigade missed out on a chance to get into the playoffs spot, with the race now becoming even tighter. Carles Cuadrat was unhappy with how leaky his side was and felt the third goal killed the game. He said: “When you concede two goals so early in the game, it becomes very difficult to get even one point. My message to the players at half-time was that if we scored one goal early, we’d get something from the game.

“I think that we had a good reaction in the second half, the players tried their best with some changes in the tactics, but their third goal turned out to be the turning point. We went down 2-0 in 15 minutes, which was a disaster, but we had time for a comeback. I was sure that we were going to score and put them in troubles with only one goal difference. To use Felicio, to put the ball into the opponent’s box, etc… but their third goal become the turning point,” he added.

Lalchhungnunga form and defensive errors

The Spaniard also agreed that Lalchhungnunga’s form has dipped since his return from the AFC Asian Cup. He mentioned: “Nunga was not participating in the Super Cup for us. He’s a player for the future, he’s only 23. It’s that when you play with two foreign centre-backs, you get more consistent. Unfortunately with Saul’s injury, we had to change things and put Pardo in midfield. Before Christmas, Nunga was in good rhythm and was working very well with the team but after the national team training camp, he has not been the same player. We have to help him to get him at his best again because he’s very important for the club.”

Carles Cuadrat was clearly annoyed with his side’s poor defending in the game and made it known, explaining: “I’m really upset with the loss. When you concede three goals, it’s very difficult to get any point. We have been working a lot on our defensive solidity, it was one of our good things until now in ISL. So today I’m very angry with my players becouse the defensive system was very fragile. It was a very bad start to the game, the opponents just planned to be compact and playing for the counter-attack. And we made things very easy for them at the start of the game. Unforced errors gave them all the advantage early in the game. We knew that was their plan, but you can’t concede goals like that and I’ll have to take decisions over that.”

Did East Bengal miss key midfielders?

When asked if his side missed midfielders Saul Crespo and Souvik Chakrabarti in the match, Carles Cuadrat responded: “We have been playing with different players than we did in the Super Cup and before it. We’ve tried to give minutes to the youngsters becouse of some injuries and also becouse of Sauvik suspension. This is a learning process for all. We started the match with a team that played most of the minutes against Mohun Bagan last week, doing a lot of good things, trying to give the guys the positivity from their recent performance. But today things just not matched for them; we were putting ourselves in problems without any necessity.

“Unfortunately sometimes the youngsters cave to the stress of the big games and make mistakes. But no problem, we’ll support Sayan, Ajay, Vishnu, Rakip, Nunga… all the 23-year-olds and even youngsters participating. There are injuries, there are things happening and you have to put players who you think are going to be the future of the club. The effort is there from their side. Sometimes a bad loss is an accelerate way to learn from their side,” he added.

Praise for debutants and schedule issues

Carles Cuadrat praised the impact made by debutants Felicio Brown Forbes and Victor Vazquez in the second half. He said: “It was not easy for the new foreigners to go into the match when you are losing. But they are very good players who showed that they have the quality and vision of the game. Felicio did his job, he scored one goal, and Victor Vazquez also showed that he has the quality. I hope that step by step they get fit enough to play for 90 minutes and help us to get the results. It’s a long season yet, but I’m happy about what I saw from both of them.”

Finally, Cuadrat voiced his displeasure with the schedule in February when asked about how his side will cope without Cleiton Silva against Mumbai City due to suspension. He stated: “We’ll see which players I have for that. We play another game very fast, it’s one of the crazy things of the calendar. But no excuses for that. They ask us to move one more match on October. So under their suggestion it should be for us only three official matches in two full months (October & November), to postponed first half of the season FC Goa and Mohun Bagan games.

“Now in February, they pretended to make us play 10 games, like half of the league in one month. So when you have one or two injuries, like we have now, with that mess of schedule you’ll have problems. Crazy calendar. Room to improve for indian football organization. Year after year same problems,” he finished with.  

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