Criticism of Sumeet Passi unfair and unnecessary: East Bengal FC's Stephen Constantine

East Bengal FC head coach Stephen Constantine was disappointed with the way his side conceded in injury time as they went down to FC Goa, in their last match of Hero Indian Super League (ISL) season at the Vivekananda Yuva Bharati Krirangan, in Kolkata and wants his team to make amends when they take on NorthEast United FC in Guwahati on Thursday.

The Red and Golds head coach remains positive about his team’s ability to succeed in the Hero ISL despite the early setbacks and has urged his team to convert their good moments in the game into something substantial that will help them get the desired result.

He also urged fans to be mindful while criticising the players as it can hurt the players’ feelings, citing Sumeet Passi’s example who he believes like the rest of his players has been working his socks off in training

Constantine was joined by club goalkeeper Kamaljit Singh during the official pre-match press conference ahead of the NorthEast United FC match as they discussed strategies and various other aspects of the match.

Here are the excerpts from Constantine’s press conference:

What are your plans for NorthEast United FC match?  

Constantine: We take each team that we face as a special case, every team is different, every team have different individuals and so we prepare for the NorthEast United FC the same way that we would prepare for Kerala Blasters FC and also for FC Goa.

I watched them back. I thought they were extremely unlucky in the first match. At least not to get a point. They work very, very hard off the ball and it will not be an easy game as there are no easy games in this league. So, we will be disciplined, we will be aggressive and we will try to win the game and come home with all the three points.

Back-to-back losses and you fought really well, but in the NorthEast United FC match how will you inspire your players to come and play for the 90 minutes?

Constantine: If we will play really badly in both games, I would be worried. But we haven't and we have shown some good moments in both games. So, I'm optimistic that we can play better and get and get the right result. You are not going to win all the games that you play, that's for sure. But in both the games we had some very good moments particularly with goal in the second half and I think if we can produce that kind of play, good things are going to happen. As you said, we need to put those performances together and at the moment we haven't done that.

Have you got any special messages to the travelling fans who will be going to Guwahati?

Constantine: When you are the coach of East Bengal FC, you expect big support to be there wherever you are. If you're going to Brazil tomorrow, they will be there. If you go to England, they will be there. Then you go to the United States, they would be there as well. They are everywhere and we need them to come and support us home or away, and hopefully, they will not have to wait much longer for the first win.

What is the status of Aniket Jadhav, will he be available for Thursday’s match?

Constantine: No, he is not. He is not banished in the reserves like many reported. He needs to understand the way we are trying to play, he played for so many years on the right side and was coming in to shoot with his left. If you count, how many goals he scored with his left, it's less than five. So, we play slightly different. I want the right midfield player to be right footed, go past his man and cross. Aniket can do that, but he needs to be consistent. I put him in the reserve team to get some games so that he can play 90-minute games, which he hasn't had and build his confidence up.

It's not like he is not in the team for being penalised for doing anything wrong. He hasn't done anything wrong. He has just not played enough and hasn't performed when he did get the opportunity. So, is given the chance to go and train with the reserves and get game time. That is the whole objective.

Do you worry about Sumeet Passi’s performance?

Constantine: He didn't play very well in the last game. But so did a few other boys in the previous games. When we started pre-season, he has played in numerous positions for us and works non-stop. He has worked his socks off in all the games and in training. And this nonsense about Passi, you know, I think we have to be a little mindful. He has feelings as well and we have to make sure that all the players are okay.

I think it's unfair and unnecessary. And, you know, we have to think a little bit about the players feelings also. It happens, in football you make mistakes.

Here are the excerpts from Kamaljit Singh’s press conference:

You have had two impressive games and how do you see NorthEast United FC as an opponent?

Kamaljit: Like us, they are also looking for a point and it's going to be a good game. We know we are working very hard in our training; we rectified our mistakes and we will work together to get a positive result.

You have one of the hardest tasks being the goalkeeper. But how are you able to handle the pressure?

Kamaljit: I think we all are doing our job, which our coach has given us and hopefully, we'll keep doing it the way we are doing. But we were unlucky in our last game, and we know where we were lacking.

Last game you conceded a late goal against FC Goa but obviously made some brilliant saves before that, but do you think in the build up to that goal you could have done something differently and was there any error you do feel on your part?

Kamaljit: We all should have done something as a whole to avoid that goal. We should have done better. I won't say it's a single player’s mistake.

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