East Bengal FC striker Cleiton Silva believes his team can make the top six in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) this season and the next few matches will be crucial for their chances of doing so. 

Silva has led from the front for the Red and Gold brigade scoring seven goals this season making him the joint-highest goalscorer in the league. However, the Kolkata giants have picked up just four wins from eleven matches and find themselves seven points behind Odisha FC who occupy the final playoff spot. 

But with a game in hand over the top six teams, Silva feels East Bengal FC can turn things around in the second half of the season. 

“Our target is to be in the top six. People don’t believe that we can do it. If we can get some points in the next 2-3 games, we will be on track,” Silva told reporters in Kolkata during a recent media interaction.

However, the Brazilian admitted that the team needs to zero in on their best starting eleven soon. 

“The team has many new players. Most of them are young and lack experience. It’s difficult to have this balance. It’s difficult to put eleven players together to make it immediately work. We are still working hard for the best eleven to be more consistent in the games,” Silva said. 

The 35-year-old though also called for patience from the fans as East Bengal FC are still finding their feet under new ownership. 

“We have to work and practice. It’s not a fast process. Look at Arsenal. They are on the top of the table (Premier League). How long did they take? The last time they were on the top was when players like Thiery Henry and Robert Pires played for the club. It was around 15 years ago. They went through a long process,” he said. 

“I hope we don’t take that long. Indian clubs who are on top now, have been there for two years. It’s a long process,” he added. 

Apart from making the top six, East Bengal FC fans would have one more target in mind which would be to overhaul their arch-rivals ATK Mohun Bagan in the Kolkata derby. The Red and Golds haven’t beaten the Mariners in the Hero ISL and it’s a run that Silva is keen to put an end to. 

“Everywhere I go, the fans say you must win the derby and you must score the goal. They don’t even say hi. We will try to win the game on 25th February,” Silva said.

“First thing is to believe that we can beat them. We cannot go to the game and think that they are unbeaten against us, one more loss won’t do more damage. We must make up our mind to go and win against them. They have very good players. They sign any player they want,” he added. 

East Bengal FC take on Odisha FC in Bhubaneswar in their next match in the Hero ISL. In the reverse fixture, Stephen Constantine’s men led 2-0 only to allow Odisha FC a way back into the match which they ended up losing 2-3. 

They will take some positives from that match as they take on the Juggernauts who have a formidable home record but have been struggling for form of late having lost three out of their last four matches.