East Bengal FC are better since the Durand Cup meeting: Mumbai City FC's Des Buckingham

Mumbai City FC head coach Des Buckingham has reminded his team that they need to be on top of their game to get the favorable result as East Bengal FC host Mumbai City FC at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2022-23 on Friday.

Both teams met in the Durand Cup and it was the Red and Gold Brigade that came out as the winner in a seven-goal thriller. Buckingham believes both are very different teams now and have got better game by game since that meeting. The Islanders are unbeaten in the league so far whereas East Bengal FC yet to receive their first home win.

With the home fans' support by their side, East Bengal FC would want to inflict the first loss on the Mumbai City FC side like they did before but the head coach of the away team believes that they are used to playing in front of the Kolkata fans and are eagerly looking forward for that challenge rather than worrying about it.

Des Buckingham addressed the media in the pre match press conference along with Mandar Rao Dessai :

Here are the excerpts from Buckingham's conference:

You have played against East Bengal FC in the Durand cup, what is the difference you have seen in the East Bengal FC side so far?

Buckingham: I think the same as everybody, a very different team, same as us, a very different team. So when we last played each other in the Durand Cup, a lot of time had passed. The more time you get to spend with players, the more time you can train, the more games that you get. I think we've got better game by game and I would say East Bengal FC also have got better game by game. So there's a lot of differences from when we last played each other and I would like to think that both teams are going to get better and better (as season progress)

Are there any injury concerns? Or everyone is available for the next game?

Buckingham: Rostyn Griffiths got a slight tweak. I was just waiting to see whether or not that's gonna be okay to start, but otherwise, we were fit. We've got a nice refresh break and there were a lot of rejuvenated players that are very much looking forward to the game on Friday.

When East Bengal FC is more a complete team now than in Durand cup, so difficult would it be for you to face them now?

Buckingham: Every team we played so far has been challenging. I think when you look at the league as it sits right now, there's no team that's pulling away from anybody, especially towards the top six. Certainly there's very few points separating those positions. So yes, as I said in my first question, I think East Bengal FC have got better. But I think so is everybody else and I think that comes regardless of how much time you have before the start of the season and  the time you have after joining the season.

Stephen Constantine is a very good head coach and has some good experience in India and gets the best out of his players. And he's done very well with the team so far and we're expecting that as a challenge and as a test as any other team we've played so far this year and we know we're are asked be on top of our game to try and come in and play the football that we want to try and come away with the result we want.

You have played against both ATK Mohun Bagan and East Bengal FC, which one is bigger?

Buckingham: We have played against Mohammedan SC as well (Laughs). So we played against all three Kolkata Giants and I'll give you the same answer I gave when I was asked that same question when we played against all three (in Durand Cup). So what I will say is each of them have got their own strength, I think it is very lucky (for fans) in this region to have three wonderful teams to come and support as they play very good football.

You are undefeated in this season but there is always a pressure for teams to come to Kolkata and play against East Bengal FC in front of their fans. How do you cope with the pressure?

Buckingham: You might see it as pressure and it's certainly not something that I or my group do. It is one of the excitements. We came and we had some good experiences. We spent five weeks here during the Durand Cup and that was to try and prepare this team as well as it could to start the season. But those experiences will bring some good stuff now because we played in a stadium three or four times during that competition. So the players are used to the stadium, they are used to crowds.

We have had some wonderful experiences already this year when we've gone to away games and played, especially in Kerala in front of 30000-40000, the crowds are there and that's wonderful for the game because it allows the players to showcase what they can do in front of so many people and you say pressure. I said that's excitement and that's what we were all here for. Players want to play in front of people and coaches want to coach in front of people. So it's something that we look forward to rather than worry about.

What is the strongest and weakest point of the East Bengal FC side?

Buckingham: I don't think there are many weaknesses and if there were any, I'm not going to tell you now because I don't want them to sort them out by Friday (Laughs). What we will say is that they come together very late and when you look at the games that they play so far, (they are trying) to get a team together.  We had this experience last year. I only came into this club for three weeks before the season started last year. So I know how challenging and how tough that can be.

I think what Stephen Constantine has done in that time is hard so far here. I think the requirements are very good, but it's been the time they spend together. Yes, there are strengths and weaknesses as there are with us and we do our best to try and exploit those weaknesses on Friday, but they'll be trying to do exactly the same thing to us. So we'll focus on making sure what we do is as good as it can be and then we'll try and do as well as we can and we hope the result will follow.

Here are the excerpts from Mandar Rao Dessai :

How do you rate the East Bengal FC team?

Dessai: Whenever we face any kind of team (Strong or weak team), we always try to prepare (well). We don't think about all these things. We prepare for each game in a different way. We just want to continue that in Saturday's game.

East Bengal FC has a good wing as they has Naorem Mahesh Singh and VP Suhair on the wings and Cleiton Silva as the forward, what will be your thinking to stop them?

Dessai: Yeah, it is always a good challenge for us. It's not only me, but for all teammates to face good players. As you said, yes, there are good players and we are also ready to face such good players and hopefully on Friday we get some good results.

You are just coming back from a 15 day gap. How has that helped you as a player to recharge and come back for the tough second part of the season?

Dessai: Yes, we started the season well and it's really important for a team to start a season well, and we have been doing well till now and. Yes, the break was also important for us, just to go and see our families, spend time with them because we are also away from our families. It might be just three or four days but that short period of time is really important for all the players and all the staff to spend time with their family members. Get refreshed and come back and start from where we have left.

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