East Bengal FC assistant coach Dimas Delgado wants his side to throw up a strong challenge for Odisha FC when they meet them in their upcoming Indian Super League (ISL) match at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Thursday.

It will be the action replay of the Kalinga Super Cup 2024 final, which was played just around one month before when Carles Cuadrat’s side emerged victorious after a 120-minute fierce contest.

The two sides played out a goalless draw in the first leg in Kolkata where the home side showed their resilience and indomitable fighting spirit and made things difficult for Odisha FC.

East Bengal FC will be determined to continue their current form against Sergio Lobera’s side to keep them alive in the chase of securing the final playoff spot. 

Delgado urged his players to replicate their recent performances against league leaders Odisha FC. Acknowledging his opponent’s strengths, the assistant coach wanted to stay focused on his players and is optimistic about presenting a challenging 90 minutes to their opponent.

“I think Odisha FC also have to be worried about us. The way they are playing, they start the half strong, and we can also show them that we can compete with them strongly and make things difficult,” Delgado said in the pre-match press conference.

“The main thing for us is to take care of our players, make them available to play and stick to our plan. We need to make things as difficult as possible for them, as we have done in the last two games where we've faced them,” he added.

With Carles Cuadrat set to sit out this game due to suspension, his assistant will step into the role, supporting the team from the sidelines. Delgado believes the absence of the head coach won't be an issue for them, as all the players are well-versed in their responsibilities.

“For me, this will be like a normal situation. We’ve been working together since the start of the season, and everyone knows what our job is,” he stated.

“We’ll take this as normal as possible and explain to the players how to face the game. It’s nothing to be excited or worried about; be normal and take the game as we have to do and go for the three points,” he continued.

East Bengal FC doesn't have an impressive record in their away fixtures this season, securing only a single victory away from home in their recent games, which came against the bottom-placed Hyderabad FC. Despite taking a one-goal lead until the 80th minute, they lost all three points in their recent away game against Jamshedpur FC.

Failing to convert their goal-scoring opportunities was one of the many reasons they suffered their sixth defeat of the season.

While discussing the challenges they face in the playoff race and addressing the issue of missed opportunities in front of the goal, Delgado asserted, "Everyone here knows how close this league is. Every game has the same situation; when you are in a tight situation towards the end of a game, a lot of things can happen and a lot of emotions are coming up.”

“Of course, if you are in a one-goal difference, you can expect anything. We must keep working, make our goal gap bigger, and close games early. But sometimes it’s a question of decision-making. The players are making a lot of good decisions, but everyone can miss chances,” he analyzed.

New faces like Sayan Banerjee, PV Vishnu, and Aman CK have made their ISL debut under Cuadrat, gaining valuable game time after performing well for the reserve team. The Spaniard emphasizes the necessity of involving more young players in their set-up and helping them adapt to the first team.

Speaking in this context, he said, “I think it’s very important for a club to develop young players. That was one of our main objectives when we came; we wanted to go and watch the youth games and start to know and promote the talented youngsters, give them chances, and make them a part of our club.”

“They are taking this challenge really well; they are coming with a hunger to learn and win a place in the first team. We are very happy with the way the youngsters are working and the way they’re performing when they have got the chance. We want to give opportunities to them because it’s very important for the future of the club,” he signed off.

I’ll try to do my best: Sayan Banerjee

 

Winger Sayan Banerjee accompanied his coach in the press conference ahead of their important away game against Odisha FC. The young Bengali footballer is delighted to get the opportunity to play for East Bengal FC and has conveyed his gratitude to his coaches, who have kept their belief in his quality and potential.

“I’m very happy to get the chance to play for the senior team,” Banerjee said.

“I’m thankful to the coaches for giving me chances to prove myself. I’ll try to do my best (in the upcoming matches),” he concluded.