East Bengal FC head coach Carles Cuadrat wants his team to continue their winning momentum as they face Punjab FC in Matchweek 9 of the Indian Super League (ISL) at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata on Saturday.

The Red and Gold Brigade etched their name in the history books by securing their highest-margin win in the ISL. From Borja Herrera to Cleiton Silva, and Naorem Mahesh Singh to Nandhakumar Sekar, all shone together as the Kolkata-based club outplayed NorthEast United FC, handing them a massive defeat last week. With two wins and two draws, East Bengal FC currently holds the eighth spot in the table with eight points.

After enduring three consecutive narrow defeats against Bengaluru FC, FC Goa, and Kerala Blasters FC, Cuadrat’s men displayed their spark against the Highlanders to secure their second win of the season. However, their head coach doesn't want them to get carried away. Instead, he emphasizes staying grounded and building on the momentum against Punjab FC.

“Of course, we have our feet on the floor, and we are very humble,” he said in the pre-match press conference.

“We understand that we have achieved nothing, just (a) victory at home. And when you come from four games without a win, of course, one game is not going to put you in the sky. So, we are conscious that we have to keep doing our work and that we have a wonderful opportunity tomorrow again in front of our supporters to show that we are a competitive team and to try to fight for the points,” he shared.

East Bengal FC are yet to secure consecutive wins in the ISL, and now, with the backing of home supporters, they are eager to achieve this feat. Cuadrat reiterated the importance of taking advantage of home support to secure maximum points at home.

“I'm preparing to win the match. And as I told (before), if we could get six points from our next two home matches (NorthEast United FC and Punjab FC), it's going to be a very different sensation for all of us,” he said.

“So, this is the target. Try to use the advantage of playing at home. Try to bring our supporters to the stadium to help us, and try to live in a nice moment that helps us get the victory,” he added.

While Cuadrat expressed respect for Punjab FC and commended their style of play, he urged his players to maintain their focus on their dynamic and secure another crucial three points.

"We have a lot of respect for Punjab FC. We know that they have a plan, and they work very well with it. We know that they are going to come here to try to win the game. So we are very focused on trying to keep going with our good dynamic that we started in the last match and try to be mentally strong to get a new victory, which is very important for us,” he commented.

The Spaniard is well aware of the individual brilliance that Punjab FC can offer with Juan Mera, Luka Majcen, and Madih Talal. Mera, in particular, will be up against his former club on Saturday. Speaking on the threat of the opposition, Cuadrat said: "Juan Mera is a brilliant player. We know he has very good technical skills, very good dribbling, and very good shooting with the left foot. So, of course, we have to pay attention to him as well.”

“He (Mera) has been a popular player at East Bengal FC in the past, and I know that supporters love him very much. So, he will be extra motivated, and we have to pay attention for sure,” he added.

“But it's not the only problem that Punjab can give us because Luka Majcen is also scoring goals. He has already scored three goals. Madih Talal is a very good player. He created the most chances for his team. And also, in defence, they have important players,” he continued.

The Red and Gold Brigade will be without the services of one of their leaders, Harmanjot Singh Khabra, due to an injury in the last match. On a positive note, Cuadrat confirmed that Borja Herrera is available for the upcoming fixture.

“What is important about Harmanjot Singh Khabra is that, not only as a player but also as a human being, he's a leader. He's a very important player in the locker room,” he said.

“So, it's a very big miss for us in that sense because it's important to have leaders in the team, and he is one of our captains, and he's somebody that we always want close to us to help the team,” Cuadrat concluded.

Very happy to have game time this season: Mohammad Rakip

Mohammad Rakip attended the press conference with his head coach ahead of their next home game against Punjab FC. Rakip expressed joy at receiving more playing time with East Bengal FC this season and reiterated his commitment to giving his best for the club.

“I'm very happy to have game time this season,” he stated.

“I want to thank my coach, who believes in me and gives me opportunities in every game, which gives me extra energy to show what I have. Whenever I get the chance, I will try to give my best to help the team get positive results,” Rakip concluded.