SC East Bengal fans are with us in spirit, says Fowler ahead of Kolkata derby
After a long wait, SC East Bengal will finally make their Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) bow against ATK Mohun Bagan in the first-ever Kolkata derby of the league on Friday, and head coach Robbie Fowler is a confident man going into the match.
“We've prepared properly and right. We know it's been a really short time in pre-season but we accept and adapt to whatever is in front of us. A lot of the players are ready so we go into this game as good as we can. It feels like forever, waiting for the game so thankfully now the game is upon us, and we can all get ready for that,” said Fowler at the pre-match press conference.
The Kolkata derby is undoubtedly the biggest derby in Indian football, and the fanbases of both clubs make up a huge part of the rivalry. Although the fans will not be in the stadium to support SC East Bengal, Fowler believes they will be with his team in ‘spirit’.
“Ideally you want the fans right behind you and giving everything they've got for us. There will be a time when the fans will get back into the ground and support us, but right now we know that the fans are with us in spirit. So we'll go out there and perform the best we can and try and just focus on the game,” he said.
A legend with English club Liverpool, Fowler has played in a number of derbies himself. The Englishman shared a few words of advice for his players ahead of their crunch tie. “We all want to win the game but you've still got to be sensible, you still have got to go out there and do all the right things and not get carried away.
“We know there's a lot to take, but also there's a game to be played and we have to play the right way,” said Fowler.
Friday’s game will be SC Bengal’s first of the season, while ATK Mohun Bagan come into the game after a 1-0 win over Kerala Blasters FC. Talking about the pros and cons of such a scenario, the 45-year-old said, “We go into the game knowing a little bit more about ATK Mohun Bagan than they do about us. So we are prepared that way. As for the disadvantages, we've not played before and we go into the game a little bit rusty.”