SC East Bengal are winless in the Kolkata Derby in the Indian Super League.
SC East Bengal head coach Mario Rivera believes league position won’t matter when they and ATK Mohun Bagan step out for the Kolkata Derby on Saturday. The Red and Gold are winless in the derbies in the ISL, having lost each of their opening three encounters. They were thrashed 3-0 when both teams clashed in the reverse fixture earlier this season.
But, all that won’t matter come Saturday feels Rivera, yet to lose a Kolkata Derby in his first two spells at SC East Bengal. He also feels that his team won’t need any extra motivation for this match, as they are aware of the importance of this clash. SC East Bengal are currently languishing at the bottom of the ISL points table, with nine points from 13 matches. They have managed just one win all season and their hopes of making the playoffs are virtually over.
But, Rivera is adamant that for a day his team would put aside the disappointments of this season and fight to clinch all three points. Ahead of the Kolkata Derby, Mario Rivera shared his thoughts and also revealed his plans to stop Juan Ferrando’s side.
Three years since SC East Bengal last won the Kolkata Derby. Can you turn the tables this time?
Yes, of course, we can win the derby. When you’re playing a derby, you never mind the position in the table, you are facing your top rival and you are ready to win. Be it the position or the situation of the team, nothing is important before the derby.
After last match’s defeat, the players were professional and this is normal. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose and sometimes you draw. One of the top football coaches in the world said that the footballers and coaches have to be ready because you will lose more times than you will win. After that match, if you win, you have to begin again from scratch and even if you lose, it’s the same.
You enjoy a 100% record in Kolkata Derby. How are you explaining the importance of this match to the foreigners?
Mario Rivera: I’m explaining to the foreign players about the Kolkata Derby because they will play without the crowd and for them, it’s important to understand that. I will show them some videos of great matches at the Salt Lake Stadium, with a fully packed stadium with both supporters and a very nice atmosphere of the derby. They will miss this situation, but they need to know how important it is for our supporters to win the derby.
How are you planning to stop ATK Mohun Bagan’s attacking line?
Mario Rivera: Yes, they have one of the best attacking lines and we need to stop them while they’re making the (forward) runs. If they make their runs, we’ll have problems, we’ll need to withdraw quickly and reduce the space at the back. If we can succeed in these two things, we have a chance to win.
Will SC East Bengal start the Kolkata Derby as underdogs?
Mario Rivera: Yes, I already said that it’s not a real situation. Professional players always play to win the game. I think that sometimes when you look from outside, you can say that. But, if you see the players training, you can see that they are preparing properly to win the match.
How do you motivate your players after such a difficult loss?
Mario Rivera: Yes, sometimes the best situation after losing against a team like Hyderabad is to play the other way because sometimes you need to stop the motivation for some players, not to increase the motivation. If you are playing a normal match, you need motivation, but when it comes to a derby, the players don’t need much motivation.
Do SCEB players need more psychological inputs?
Mario Rivera: No, I think every aspect is equally important. You need the top level in technical, tactical, psychological and fitness aspects to win a match. One aspect is not more important just because we lost the last match, all aspects are equally important for all the matches.
More pressure on ATK Mohun Bagan to win?
Mario Rivera: Yes, of course. They are fighting and are close to being in the top four. They are the favourites and I think they have more pressure. But, in another way, it’s almost the same. Both of us need the three points. But, they need to win, a draw is not useful for them to reach the top four.
Any specific plan to disrupt ATK Mohun Bagan’s well-oiled passing?
Mario Rivera: There’s no specific plan as such. We are defending well against the positional attack of teams. For us, it’s more important about the transition, which is where we want to improve. But, the positional attack of ATK Mohun Bagan is not a special situation for us because we are defending well. We stopped FC Goa, who have better positional attacking and in this situation, we will try our best to stop ATK Mohun Bagan.
Will SC East Bengal’s problems be solved with January signings?
Mario Rivera: The whole situation is that it’s a derby and we will miss the supporters, but nothing special and nothing more to say about that. Regarding our new signings, now we will have a more balanced team. We will improve every match. The new players need to get fit soon, but we will get better each match.