Our performance in the second half is the way we shape up to be: EBFC head coach 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, who picked up their first win of the new Hero Indian Super League (ISL) season at the Vivekananda Yuva Bharati Krirangan, in Kolkata, on Wednesday.

Brandon Fernandes fired home an early goal for his side. The hosts fought back with a Cleiton Silva penalty goal, only to be inflicted with a defeat in the last minute of the game as Edu Bedia scored a free-kick to clinch full points for the Carlos Pena-led side.

FC Goa end six-match drought in Kolkata with late winner against East Bengal

Constantine, though, lauded his side’s second-half display and maintained that these kind of performances will shape up his side going forward in the season.

Here are the excerpts from his press conference:

A loss in the opening game and a loss in the home game. The next home game is the Kolkata derby. So, what are your expectations?

Before the derby, we have another game. So I’m not thinking about the derby.

You conceded a goal in the very last minute and that is heartbreaking. So, what are your takeaways from the second half performance of the team?

I think in the first half, FC Goa were the better side, they had more of the ball. We looked very nervous again, but in the second half, I felt we completely dominated the game, had a few chances. The way we conceded the goal, it was very disappointing. The plus side (of the game) is that we can see the little glimpses of what we’re going to look like going forward (in the season), and I thought it was exceptional in the second half, and this is the kind of performance that we’re looking for. Obviously, today we didn’t get the 90 minutes of it, we got only 45 which was not enough.

Are these two losses just down to bad luck? What is the clear message to the team after these two games?

I think you make your own luck. You can’t say it was bad luck because you lost the game, but I think we are trying to find our identity. As I said before, we are a new team, we have new players. We’ve had four actual weeks of training before the season started. When I arrived here, there were only 12 players in training. A lot has happened, and I’m not making excuses but it’s not the start we wanted. Obviously we wanted those six points, but we are trying to find our identity. We’ll continue to work hard, and the second-half performance will continue to give us hope for the season ahead.

We didn’t see Eliandro dos Santos on the matchday squad? Is he injured?

Yes. Eliandro got a knock in training last week. He was not able to be fully fit, but again this is football you have suspensions, cards, injuries, and a lot more.

Your side conceded two goals in this match. Do you think it is because of lack of concentration?

I wouldn’t put it down to lack of concentration. The first goal was a very good move from their side, the second goal, 9/10 times that ball is cleared or it bounces over the bar, but it bounced into the top corner. We should’ve dealt with it in a better way.

Sumeet Passi is a forward but what was the reason behind him being played at right-back when you had a player like Sarthak Golui on the bench?

If you haven’t seen where Passi played the last three years, he’s played as a right-back. He hasn’t played as a centre-forward for about three years. We played him as a centre-forward in the early games because we didn’t have a centre-forward, we’ve played him right-midfield because we didn’t have a right-sided player with that height. Don’t forget he adds height to the team, and today he played at his position, at right-back. Obviously, we needed to change at half-time and that’s what we did.

You’ve mentioned that you’re building this team from the first press conference. Do the learnings of this match add up to that learning process, and will we see a refreshed East Bengal FC, as the side played at home for the very first time in Hero ISL?

I think that’s a good question. We learn from every game in different ways and today we saw players that didn’t feature in the first game, and they came and they played. There is now going to be stiff competition for positions and places, and this is what you want as you don’t want to lose in the 94th minute. Everything we do is part of the process. We will sit down, look at what we did right, look at what we did wrong, and try to improve on things.

What I can say to the fans is that the boys gave everything they possibly could, the way the side played in the second half is the way East Bengal will shape up to be, to play in this manner - hard, fast, aggressive. I don’t care what anybody says, but you cannot do this in two-three games. You can expect us to play in a similar manner going forward, unfortunately, it was not enough for us today.

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