The Red and Gold’s assistant coach seemed confident ahead of the big game on Friday.

“Hopefully, we can make our fans proud this time, as we are now more in an even shape than the first one. We know the worth of a derby win, but it will not be the defining moment of the season for us,” said SC East Bengal assistant coach Tony Grant ahead of the mega Kolkata Derby against arch-rivals ATK Mohun Bagan in the Indian Super League.

Derby as first game was unfair

Speaking about the loss in the reverse fixture, Tony Grant said, “It was tough on us, as we were only together for a really short period of time. We probably had only 8-9 sessions and no proper game before that. It was a little bit unfair on us to face the local rivals in such a big game without being properly prepared,” Grant stated.

Derby is a learning experience

Quizzed whether missing the playoffs will have an effect on the team ahead of the derby, the coach said, “It will not affect us. For this season, it was the first in ISL for most of our players.” Moreover, Grant believes, “Some of them have done well and some of them have found it hard.

“So, it has been all about the improvement of the young players and every match has been a learning experience for them. Maybe, in the future seasons, we will emphasize more on the top four or top five. So, motivation isn’t a problem, we are doing better every day.”

East Bengal respect Mariners

“ATK has been doing well for the last couple of years. We are going to respect them. It’s just football and every team has players, so we don’t fear anyone,” Tony Grant said while sharing his thoughts on his side’s opponents ahead of the big match.

Danny Fox’ comments

SC East Bengal captain Danny Fox was also present in the pre-match press conference along with his coach. The defender said that he is aware of the Mariners’ strengths and their current position at the top of the points table, but was also quick to add that he is looking forward to the challenge posed by them.

“It’s going to be difficult. Every game is difficult and every team attacks well. If you look at the likes of Odisha FC, they have got a good attack, Kerala Blasters have got Jordan Murray and Gary Hooper. Against ATKMB, it is going to be difficult but we are looking forward to it. We also have got a very good attack, so we are all relishing the challenge,” Fox signed off.

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