Want to be the first coach to take East Bengal FC in Hero ISL top six: Stephen Constantine
East Bengal FC head coach Stephen Constantine is confident that he would take the club into the playoffs if the proper support is given by all the stakeholders as East Bengal FC host Kerala Blasters FC in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata on Friday.
East Bengal FC have a rich history, be it in the domestic or international circuit but since its inception in the Hero ISL in 2020, the club has failed to make it into the playoffs for two consecutive seasons. The Red and Gold Brigade finished the last season at the bottom with just one win. Constantine is confident that he can bring back the golden days of East Bengal FC but he wants the support from all stakeholders.
"Obviously people don't want to hear but we've lost games that we should not have lost and I accept the responsibility for that but we are better than last year and we are better than the year before. In the third year of our Hero ISL campaign, we have more wins now. Is it enough? No. Is our football fantastic? No. Is it where you want it to be? No. Do we need to plan for next season? Yes, we are doing that now," he added.
"People ask me, why did I choose East Bengal FC? Because, I want to be the first guy to put East Bengal FC in the top six in the Hero ISL. I know, I can make East Bengal FC to be one of the top teams. But I can't do it by myself. I need the players. I need the administration and I need the fans," he said.
Constantine's over dependence on Cleiton Silva for the goals has been the problem for the club this season. East Bengal FC have scored 17 goals so far, in which the Brazilian has nine goals to his name. The EBFC head coach is hopeful that the arrival of Jake Jervis would help solve this issue and hopes to see a good show from the new striker.
"We have been identifying players since October. Jack (Jervis) was one of those players that we wanted to get in, obviously we needed help up front. It's taken a while because of the embargo. He's going to play in the game on Friday. I think this is the first time, I had two foreign players begin a game (upfront), which was our objective from day one. So, I'm pleased about that. And I hope he will have a good game," he commented.
We’ll host the Blasters in our 8️⃣th home fixture at the VYBK tomorrow! ✊#JoyEastBengal #আমাগোমশাল #EBFCKBFC #HeroISL #EastBengalFC #IndianFootball #LetsFootball pic.twitter.com/nEW6zAuSgy— East Bengal FC (@eastbengal_fc) February 2, 2023
The reverse fixture between these two teams was the opening fixture of the Hero ISL 2022-23 season and Kerala Blasters FC came up with a 3-1 victory. Since then, the Yellow Army is in third position whereas East Bengal FC are ninth with 12 points. Constantine said they are a different team now and expect to get the three points with the home advantage.
"We are a different team from the first game and so are they. That was quite a long time ago and I think it was 70 minutes, the game was 0-0. I don't know how we lost that game 3-1 but we did. It will be a difficult game. Kerala Blasters FC are a very good team. I think they deserve to be in the position therein. They have some very good players, both Indian and foreign players. But it's the second time we play them and we play at home and we will try to get three points," the EBFC head coach said.
The playoff spot looks difficult for East Bengal FC this season as they need some favorable results from other teams' fixtures. Constantine expected the players to be motivated and give their best as he would use these matches to make decisions on whom to retain for next season.
"We have five more games. We will continue to rectify those mistakes. And then some boys are going to be looking for another team. So what is the motivation? Play to stay or play for somebody else to take you. That's the motivation. If they haven't got that motivation, some of them are not going to be with the team next year," he concluded.
Suhair Vadakkepeedika, the Kerala-born player, was present in the pre-match press conference ahead of the Kerala Blasters FC. The winger scored a goal in the last match against FC Goa and looked confident ahead of the match against his hometown team. Vadakkepeedika expressed that they were working hard to get the three points in the Friday game.
"The mood is the same for this match too, it's a difficult period for me and the team, so we've been working really hard in the training. This is football, you win or lose. We have five matches left and we'll try to perform better and win the points. My hometown is Kerala but that doesn't mean there's extra motivation, we have to play for the three points and take the needed points in the last five matches and go to the Super Cup," he added.
Suhair Vadakkepeedika has been a trusted player of the EBFC head coach as he played 14 of the 15 games and has two goals and three assists in this season to his name. The 30-year-old player wanted to score more goals as it would motivate all the players as well.
"The goals and assists not only motivate me but also they motivate every other player, so I will get a bit more confidence. If I perform for the team then it'll give me confidence. I scored three goals in my first season, four goals in last and now I've two goals so I'm trying every day to score more goals and we've five matches to go and it is possible," he concluded.