East Bengal FC's head coach Carles Cuadrat highlighted the absence of key players as his team faced a defeat against Mumbai City FC in the Indian Super League (ISL) at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan on Tuesday.

The only goal of the game was scored by Iker Guarrotxena, leading to East Bengal FC's second consecutive defeat and a drop to the 10th position in the standings with their fifth loss of the campaign.

The absence of Saul Crespo due to injury in the Kolkata Derby, coupled with Jose Pardo being ruled out against Mumbai City FC after picking up an injury in the previous game, posed a significant challenge for East Bengal FC. Additionally, their top goalscorer of the season, Cleiton Silva, was unavailable due to suspension.

The impact of Pardo and Silva's absence was noticeable as East Bengal FC struggled to match up to Mumbai City FC in both offensive and defensive aspects of the game.

Cuadrat recognised the significance of missing his key foreign players and acknowledged that the club's current situation is distinct from their victorious campaign in the Kalinga Super Cup.

“I really appreciate my players for the effort (in these tough situations) and I really appreciate the club. They understand the situation. They have been supporting me a lot. They are also working to get some players (for the future). We are doing things in the right direction, the club and Emami. I think for the first time in 10 years, there is a roadmap,” Cuadrat stated in the post-match press conference. 

“We were champions 15 days ago and we played a wonderful game against Mohun Bagan (Super Giant) after the (Kalinga) Super Cup. But we lost Saul (Crespo), we lost (Jose Antonio) Pardo. We lost Cleiton today (due to a suspension). It’s a lot of things happening. So don’t talk that we have been finishing six games winless. It’s another situation,” he added.

The recent loss against Mumbai City FC marked the third home defeat for East Bengal FC this season. Out of 13 games played so far, they have secured only two victories, currently holding the second-lowest tally in the league, with Hyderabad FC being the only team with no wins this season.

Carles Cuadrat's team has been struggling to find success since their triumph over Odisha FC in the Kalinga Super Cup final, facing defeats in two of their last three games. Despite the challenging results in recent times, Cuadrat remains confident in his team's capabilities and expressed optimism about their chances of making it to the playoffs.

“100% (we can make it to the playoffs). I believe,” he said. 

“I am already demanding my players to believe and our supporters to believe (the same). We have been celebrating (a) wonderful (achievement) 15 days ago (winning the Kalinga Super Cup), it's something very special for the club. We finished off the celebrations really fast because we were fighting against Mohun Bagan (SG) the next game. So it’s not that we are complacent. We have a plan. We want to fight for that (playoff) place. I believe and I want the East Bengal FC people to believe,” Cuadrat explained.