Want the fans to support and give us time: EBFC head coach Stephen Constantine

East Bengal FC head coach Stephen Constantine is firm about the process to build a team and believes it will need massive support and time from fans to bring the best out of his side in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2022–23. The Red and Gold Brigade will take a trip down south as they face Bengaluru FC in matchweek 6 of the Hero ISL at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium, in Bengaluru, on Friday.

Constantine said that every game is different in the league and the spirit is still good within the team. He added that the team does is focused on trying to get the three points irrespective of home or away. The 60-year-old wants his team to get away with their past mistakes and focus on Friday's game. 

The head coach was accompanied by midfielder Charis Kyriakou in the official pre-match press conference ahead of the Bengaluru FC game.

Here are the excerpts from Constantine’s press conference:

How do you rate Bengaluru FC as an opponent?

They have one of the biggest budgets in the league, and they have a new coach. But Simon Grayson (BFC coach) has good experience, and it will be difficult as there are no easy games.

One thing I can say about my team is that the spirit is good, everybody looks out for each other. I do not expect us to be faultless for 20 Hero ISL games. It is not possible. We are new, fresh, and trying very hard to build foundations. We cannot change the past, but we can work on the future. We have made mistakes, everybody makes some. But, given the attitude in training and in the games, I cannot ask for more from that department.

Do you have any special plans for the attacking players of Bengaluru FC?

We prepare for every game in a different way because there are different problems and solutions. They have different types of players; we have a match report ready on the opposition, which helps us study them. We know how they can perform, and the question is, will we be able to stop them? We have a particular style of play and do not want to change too many things because of what the opposition brings. It is an individual process, so in the next week, for a new opponent, we will prepare in a separate way and not the same way as we are preparing for Bengaluru FC.

So far in the league, your team has been performing well. You have not won a game on home soil but have done well on away soil. On Friday, you will again play away from home. Can we hope that East Bengal FC gets a good result?

I do not see it as winning at home or away, until and unless we win. We are going to Bangalore to try and win the game. We do not prepare all week, spending hours on analysis and training, we talk to the players so as to lose the game. This is not in our DNA. We want to win the game, and it is not possible to win all the games, not now. Maybe in a couple of years, I can do an Arsene Wenger, and we will be like the invincibles of Arsenal.

At the moment, we are not there, so any result is currently possible at East Bengal FC. We are a difficult team to beat; the problem arises when we make mistakes and beat ourselves. With Chennayin FC, we beat ourselves as we had two clear cut chances but we didn't score and conceded the goal from a corner, then they have one player sent off and two minutes later, we have a player sent off. This is beating yourself. We need to stop doing that and we have to learn, how to win games and not to lose games and this is the process.

Among the five matches so far, East Bengal FC have lost four. Are the supporters starting to get anxious?

This is a new season, and we have won one game, which is on par with our performance from last season. We are going to win games, maybe on Friday or the week after. Anything is possible in this league, and I am trying to understand the mentality of the fans who say we cannot build a team in five games.

It is going to get worse before it keeps getting better because we need to change things. It takes time. I have come here to help the team win, and I knew this was going to be a tough job, maybe the toughest one in all of my coaching experience. But I joined East Bengal FC because I believe that there is potential and I believe in the owners. We will provide the success that the fans expect, but they must support us and give us time.

Do you think a win on Friday will help boost the confidence of the players?

It is important that we are not losing by big margins (4-0, 5-0). We have not been played off the pitch; all the games have been relatively close. I would have said it was time for me to go, had the results been 4-0 or 5-0. We need to improve our mistakes. In the last game, our movement was not good, and we were out of shape. We are going to try and fix that on Friday, and that is the plan.

Do you think the finishing needs to be better after the chances your team has created so far?

Yes, the finishing needs to be better. We have a set time for training, but there are players who stay behind after the session is done, which is a positive sign. They work on the crossing, the finishing, and the defending. We do this quite often, and you cannot be a top player with only two hours of training; we need to put in more time.

What is the condition of Alex Lima?

Alex has a hamstring issue. He did the warm-up and extra training with the physios. We will have to see about it again.

What is the injury status of your team?

Aniket Jadhav had a fever, he was not feeling very well, so he did not train. Souvik Chakrabarti is in the hospital, he has contracted dengue and will be out for a few days. He is in good spirits, but that does not help the team. We wish him a speedy recovery, and he will be back whenever he is ready.

Is it tough to select the first eleven. What are your thoughts on that?

You cannot help when players are sick. It is not in my control, which is why we have a squad of 24 to 25 players. As for the Bengaluru FC (game), every game is a big game for us, and there are no easy games. We will proceed with the players that are available, and I cannot do more than that.

Here are the excerpts from Kyriakou’s press conference:

Bengaluru FC has top forwards like Roy Krishna and Sunil Chhetri. How do you look forward to the battle against them?

Before every game, we make a proper analysis of the opposition. We are aware of the opponent's team's strengths and weaknesses, so we must mentally prepare for who we will face. We need to be ready when the game starts and try to stop them.

How has your experience been so far? What do you think about the team’s performance?

Personally, we are a work in progress and not a finished product. The fans and everyone involved with East Bengal FC need to understand that everyone wants to win. But there are many factors to work on, and they cannot be done overnight.

I can understand what the fans must be feeling because I have played on many big teams. We need to keep pushing.

The matches between Bengaluru FC and East Bengal FC are always ones to look forward to. I would say they are one of the best matches in the Hero ISL. Are you aware of the rivalry and have any thoughts on this particular match?

All the matches from now until the end of the championship are going to be big. Two of the big teams will fight for the win, so it is important we keep the focus on our game plan, our rhythm, and our shape. We need to control the game and go there to win, as every game is a different opportunity to win.

It does not matter if we play at home or away; we need to get the three points.

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