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ISL- Indian Super League

East Bengal coach Carles Cuadrat alleges referee favoured Mohun Bagan in Kolkata Derby

Published at :February 9, 2024 at 12:10 AM
Modified at :February 9, 2024 at 12:10 AM
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Uttiyo Sarkar

New signing Victor Vazquez accompanied Cuadrat in the press conference.

East Bengal FC hope to get back to winning ways in the Indian Super League (ISL) when they travel to face NorthEast United on Saturday (February 10).

The Red & Gold Brigadiers are coming off a positive performance in the Kolkata Derby, but Carles Cuadrat recognizes his side’s need to win more games to secure an ISL playoff finish going forward.

Things going against East Bengal?

Carles agrees with the notion that East Bengal have to win more games, but feels that things have gone against his side in the last few games – especially with some controversial late moments in the derby. Ahead of the NorthEast United game, he explained: “We need to win more games to be in the playoffs. That has been our aim always, we’ve always tried to fight for three points. We only have two wins so far, because of bad refereeing in the last moment of some games. That’s very clear. The last game should’ve been three points for us and that fault is not ours. That means we lost two points in that game.

“I’ve been working in Indian football since and I’ve seen a lot of things, and I can say when a referee has given your team a penalty, even if there is another action that’s not a penalty normally they like to watch from another side and they want to give a second penalty to the opponent. I’ve seen when your team receives a red card, there is something that happens in the game that the other team also receives a red card.

“So there is some kind of comparisational rule that exists because I’ve never seen that in a lot of other countries and that protects the team that is losing. It makes no sense. The referees should be impartial to what they see and not try to protect the weak team in the match. I’m 100% sure that if Mohun Bagan was winning the game 2-1, the push from Sahal in our box to Nandhakumar would’ve seen the referee whistle for a foul and the game would’ve gone on 2-1 in favour of Mohun Bagan. I’m 100% sure if Mohun Bagan is winning 2-1 and Petratos pushed Sayan, Petratos would’ve received a card. But because the team is losing, they are making things to keep the game on.

“That makes no sense. I’m very unhappy because there has been a lot of games where we’ve reached the last moments of the team with quality, like our game against Odisha, and because it’s a draw they take it. But a clear penalty chance, that happened two times against Odisha, the referee wished not to give a penalty in the last moment of the game. But a draw isn’t enough for us, we want victories. It’s been a case of three of our last four games where we should’ve gotten three points with better refereeing,” he also stated.

Need to improve attacking prowess

With that being said, Cuadrat agreed that his side need to improve their attacking prowess and said: “I said in my first press conference that I’ll never go for excuses. I’m not saying that referees are the only reason we’re not in the playoffs. I’m saying that as a club, we are doing a lot of things – the teams is working well and every game we’ve having chances to win the game. We’re in a position where we should have more points, sometimes it’s due to decisions not in our hands and sometimes due to our mistakes.

“We’ll stick to the plan, to try to be completive. In 22 games, we’ve only lost four games so the team is competitive. But we are struggling in the offensive part of the game, as we are not scoring enough goals o make the differences bigger so you should try to go into the last part of the game with not one goal difference but two or three goal difference. So that’s why we have changed some players in our team, like we have Victor and Felicio here now and I hope they can give us more numbers in attack. We are also promoting youngsters like Sayan and Vishnu and they give us good chances in the attack.

“We are trying to have a team that can fight for being in the higher statures of the ISL. We’ve been in two finals until now and shown against the champions of the last season, like Mohun Bagan, Mumbai City and Odisha that we can win games against them and put them in trouble. I’m very happy that for the first time in five years there was noa  favourte between Mohun Bagan and East Bengal and the things happening in the game showed which team should’ve won the three points,” he added.

Need for better game management from referees?

Cuadrat also went on a lengthy rant about the questionable quality of refereeing in ISL and how the referees need to learn to manage situations better, saying: “The referees are not trying to officiate against East Bengal. It’s not like that. It’s about winning a game. It’s a dangerous lesson what happened in the last match. In the game, we showed as all the teams now seen that if you are losing and you can push a player of the opponent team and you are not getting a red card.

“If you are losing and make a foul in the opposition box and not get reprimanded for it. The referee had seen fouls like this happening in other instances but because we are winning, he is saying play on, even though commentators and journalists saying that it was a clear foul from Sahal to Nandhakumar. It was only the official who said play on in a circumstance it was never like that.

“This is something Indian football has to improve upon, This is happening season after season and nothing is happening. The league is improving in quality, for our club one player from MLS and from China Super League is coming because they know India is growing up in football.

“But then you see, how referees are managing games. I have respect for referees all over the world, but they should understand that they are here not to condition the game, they have to try the games go on in the perfect way. A great example is in the Asian Cup. I had one player from Jordan (Hijazi Maher) and with the best for them in the final. But there are one tight match and suddenly Iraq scored and made it 2-1 against Jordan in the 75th minute.

“In the celebrations, the one who scored for Iraq got a second yellow card and he is out for the game where Iraq had to play for 15 minutes with 10 men because of an emotional moment that gives you the chance to share joy with the supporters.

“Referees have to understand that humans have emotions, add more time in added time and do whatever you have to with the management of the game, but don’t punish a team by sending off players. Suddenly Jordan got the comeback and won 3-2. Congratulations to Hijazi and the supporters, but that referee’s actions is conditioning the game and that can’t be happening in too many occasions. You have the responsibility to understand that the game belongs to the players, they are the ones on the pitch. Don’t be interfering with the things that happen in the game,” he added.

Cuadrat demands more protection for his attacking players

Cuadrat also wants the referees to give more protection to his players from nasty fouls, stating: “Another good example in the last match, there were two horrible tackles onto Mahesh Singh in the first two minutes and no yellow cards were displayed. One from Hamill and one from Subashish. They received yellow cards later in the game. But it allows players to understand that we can kick Mahesh and nothing will happen.

“The result of that Mahesh had to hospital in the 70th minute. I’m not saying anything bad about the Mohun Bagan players, they were testing the limits of the referees and playing a very good game but playing in a game that the referees had to take decisions. As a referee, he had to know what was going on in the pitch. If you see the game, I put a personal mark on Sahal. He didn’t receive a single foul in the game. But Mahesh received six fouls and was then out of the game.

“The referee has to control that and protect players. The most fouls they received was Petratos with two fouls. We need talents playing in the pitch, we need Victor Vazquez protected and we need Sahal protected. He missed the Asian Cup because of a bad tackle from Jahouh, it was a clear foul but the referee allowed it to go and for Odisha to score a goal. The players in the derby understood that Mahesh was not being protected and after too many fouls, he had to leave. The referees have to learn the game about everything happening on the pitch,” he finished with.

Victor Vazquez on joining East Bengal

New signing Victor Vazquez accompanied his coach to the press conference and opened up on joining East Bengal, saying:  “I’m very pleased to be here. I’m very happy to be here and this is a new challenge in my career. I’ve played in the MLS in the last couple of years, strong competition and I’ve been doing well. But this is a new challenge and new adventure for me. It was very easy to come here, I knew Carles from before, I played with Dimas a very long time ago at Barcelona B.

“I want to feel comfortable, I want to feel that the team will play good football. The team is doing really well this season, so it was an easy decision for me when I started talking with Carles to say that I’m coming and I’ll try to do my best. I’m an attacking midfielder and I’ll try to play for the team, I’ll try to score some goals if I can and try to win games because we want to be in the playoffs,” he added.

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