Want to target East Bengal FC’s weaknesses: NEUFC head coach Balbul

After suffering back-to-back losses in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2022-23 season, NorthEast United FC will look to open their account in the ongoing season and get back to winning ways while having a full squad fit and raring to go.

Ahead of the match against East Bengal FC, NorthEast United FC head coach Marco Balbul spoke about in-game tactics as he remains positive about his side’s fortunes. He revealed that he will stick to his style which he believes will return the favour while also demanding his players to perform consistently. Being only the second home fixture of the Hero ISL 2022-23 season for the Highlanders, Balbul demanded the fans to stay patient and keep faith in his side.

The 55-year-old was accompanied by midfielder Jon Gaztanaga during the official pre-match press conference ahead of their clash against East Bengal FC.

Here are the excerpts from Balbul’s press conference:

Your side and East Bengal FC are currently on the same level but, how do you rate the opposition and what strategies do you have in mind?

Yes, even they lost the last game. They are a very good team with good players, especially in the attack and are very organised with a very good coach. Every game in this league is not easy, it is very tiring and tough. We come to play our game, with our style at home. With our fans cheering for us, we need to make a big effort to get the first win and open our account for the new season. It will not be easy, but we can do that.

East Bengal FC have won just 4 games from the 42 that they have played in the Hero ISL. Given the current form of your opponents, do you think you have a slight advantage going into the game?

Against Bengaluru FC, we showed that we are a good team and we deserved more than a point in that game. On Thursday, we will come with the right attitude and the right approach. The players have shown me in the training how concentrated and committed they are. It will be a tough match but we will look to get all the three points home.

Against Bengaluru FC, you showed a certain style of play, then against Hyderabad we didn't see that style of play. In two games, your team put up two different styles of play. Do you think it is an issue you are still trying to sort out and find the perfect combination?

The game against Bengaluru FC was a better style of play from our side but we did not play well in the defence. We want to play the same way we played against Bengaluru FC. But every game is different and we should play with the right discipline and proper tactics against East Bengal FC. They are good with their transitions, but we will look to target their weaknesses.

East Bengal FC has a pretty good combination of foreign and Indian players. What do you have to say about their squad as a whole, especially VP Suhair who played brilliantly for NorthEast United FC last season?

They have a good squad, but we are focusing on our team and the ability to stop them from attacking and creating chances. There are no easy games in the Hero ISL. It doesn't matter who you play and where you play, the league is stacked with enormous talent. We need to focus on our style, on our attack, and how we want to defend against them. I'm sure we will come good.

Any chances of Sylvester Igboun featuring? Are there any injury concerns in the squad?

Yes, he (Igboun) is in the squad. Unfortunately, he was not available due to the delay of his visa and work permit. But now he is cleared to play and be part of the team. He is a very good and important player for us who will help us to score more goals and be more creative in the attack. I'm happy that he is in the squad.

We had one injury concern during the beginning of the season, but now all the players are in good condition. I have the whole squad to work with and I'm happy about that.

Here are the excerpts from Jon Gaztanaga’s press conference:

This is your first season in India, what do you feel about the level here? Also, how is the mood in the dressing room particularly after two losses?

Before I came, I spoke with many players that have played here, especially the Spanish players. They explained to me how the league works and I’m surprised with the level they have in this league, it is quite competitive. All the teams can win all the matches so like the coach said, every game will be difficult. We are currently at the bottom of the table, but I think we'll come good.

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