East Bengal FC will spring a surprise in the Kolkata derby: Cleiton Silva

East Bengal FC forward Cleiton Silva is excited to play his first-ever Kolkata derby in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) as the Red and Golds take on ATK Mohun Bagan at the Yuva Bharat Krirangan in Kolkata on Saturday.

Silva who has been part of the East Bengal FC setup for the last two months has sensed the excitement surrounding this fixture during his time with the club and is keen to fulfill the expectations of the fans.

Silva spoke to the media ahead at the pre-match press conference ahead of the Kolkata derby.

Here are excerpts from Cleiton Silva’s press conference:

You have seen the Kolkata derby in the Durand Cup and now you are about to face the Kolkata derby in Hero ISL. What difference do you see in terms of the opponent and your own team?

I think in the first game we had very few days to prepare for the match. I had arrived just 3-4 days before the match. Some other players also arrived just a few days before that match. Now we are together for two months and hence more prepared. It will be an interesting game for both sides.

I think they are a good side, they have some of the best players in India but in the game, it is 50-50. We lost the last match against them but we have the chance to win on Saturday and we will go into the game to win it.

How is your role in the team at East Bengal FC different from the one at Bengaluru FC?

I think here we play a little bit differently. At Bengaluru FC, I was playing more as a target man. Here I am not a target man. I play upfront but the role is a little bit different.

You are one of the main goal threats for East Bengal FC and the fans will have expectations from you. The opponent will mark you heavily so do you feel extra pressure before the match?

It's a consequence of good performance. We have many good players like Jordan who ran around 11 km. For me, this is great to have and it gives players like me a lot of support. It's not about scoring goals. There will be games where I will score and somewhere I won't and some other players will score. It is about winning the game. As a striker, you always want to score, but if some other player scores and we win the Kolkata derby, I'll be happy.

Do East Bengal go into the game as underdogs and is it a good thing because all the pressure is on ATK Mohun Bagan?

The pressure is on them because they made the biggest investments and have the biggest players. We are not underdogs but if you ask people in this room, eight out of ten people will say ATK Mohun Bagan will win the game. But we are going to surprise people on Saturday.

You have faced ATK Mohun Bagan before while playing at Bengaluru FC and now you will face them as an East Bengal FC player. What is the difference that you are experiencing?

I think here they take this game very seriously because it's a derby. It's the oldest derby in the country and the biggest derby in the Hero ISL. Bengaluru FC also have a bit of a rivalry against ATK Mohun Bagan but here it's different. Every time you go somewhere on the streets the fans remind you that you have to win the derby. We must win the derby.

Do you feel pressure to be playing in a Kolkata derby which means so much to the people?

I don't feel any pressure to play in this game. For me, this is natural. Every time I go on the pitch I would play my football. It makes the players happy when you see 60000-70000 people in the stadium. You get a natural feeling to play the game and it's better than the last two seasons when we played in empty stadiums. This is so much better.

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