We always look to play attacking football: East Bengal FC head coach Stephen Constantine

East Bengal FC head coach Stephen Constantine has been impressed by his players' performances so far in this Hero Indian Super League (ISL) season. The gaffer expects his team to continue to improve and get all the three points against Odisha FC as Red and Gold brigade host Josep Gombau's team in match matchweek 7 at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata on Friday.

This fixture is known for being high-scoring with 28 goals being scored so far between these two teams in just four games. But Constantine wants his team to keep a clean sheet this time.

In the official pre-match press conference ahead of the game, head coach Constantine was accompanied by Ivan Gonzalez, who is familiar with Odisha FC's Spanish style of play. The head coach spoke about the injury concerns, playing eleven, performances of individual players.

Here are the excerpts from Constantine's conference :

In the last match, you got the first clean sheet of this campaign so what are the positives you are taking from the last match and how much confident are you for the upcoming matches?

Constantine: The immediate positive was the clean sheet and the three points. One of the reasons for that clean sheet is sitting next to me (Ivan Gonzalez). We needed a good performance. We needed a 90-minute performance. I think we got that against Bengaluru FC and keeping the clean sheet is a bonus. I am very happy with that.

The match between East Bengal FC and Odisha FC means too many goals, almost like a tennis score (6-4, 6-5). This time Odisha FC is in your home ground. How difficult is it to stop this goal fest? 

Constantine: I don't care about last year or the year before. I think they have a very good side. They're coached very well by Joseph Gombau. And he has an idea of how he wants the game to be played. We've watched them, we are preparing for them and I cannot predict how many goals will be in the game, but I hope it's a clean sheet and I hope we win.

Any injury concerns about Jordan O'Doherty and Jerry Lalrinzuala ?

Constantine: Jordan O'Doherty and Alex Lima are OK. Jerry Lalrinzuala sustained an injury in the game. We are not sure. He's doubtful, but we still have time.

Against Bengaluru FC, the performance of Ivan Gonzalez was impressive. How happy you are with his performance in the last game. How excited are you to see in the next few games performing in the same way?

Constantine: I think he's been consistent, which is something I like and I demand players to be consistent week in and week out. He's a captain, He's a leader and he has been solid. I don't know if the last game was his best performance, I think he's been good in all of them. In some, he has been better than others, but he's been solid. So you need that through the season and you need that in the team and I'm very happy for him that he's playing so well and I hope he continues.

We have seen that there are so many fans out there in Bengaluru and we have seen so many supporters out there. Does this support make you happy?

Constantine: Of course, it does. you need support in this world. You need people who are going to. look after you and this is what our fans do. They look after us. You go home and away, there will be more Bengalis than some of the home teams. One or two teams are exceptions. The fans support the team. We tried every day to improve. We try every day to give them the joy of three points, qualifying and winning. This is why we play football for the fans, so we need them to support us. But as I said many times, you got to support through thick and thin. You don't get married for one year, the wife disappoints you and then you throw her out. You don't change your teams. You can change your wife, but you don't change your team. So you got to support your teams through thick and thin. And they have done so far.

Having kept the clean sheet in the last match, do you think that the team needs to work on their attacking line because scoring goals has been very difficult for them?

Constantine: We always look to play attacking, forward play. This is, this is our style. We will be aggressive, we will be fast and I think in the six games that we've played, you've seen. Maybe not 90 minutes of it, but in the ATK Mohun Bagan game, It was a game where there was only one team on the field in the first half. We played very well for 70 minutes in Kerala. We played OK with NorthEast United FC, so we are getting the performances. In the last game, I thought we had more of a complete performance for 90 minutes and I think the discipline from the players, the shape that Ivan Gonzalez talked about was there throughout the game and we are going to have to be very careful with Odisha FC. As I said they are a good side, they have a game plan and we will need to be ready for this. I said many times, There are no easy games in this league.

Naorem Mahesh was just amazing and it was his best performance this season. How impressed are you when Indian players perform at this level?

Constantine: I don't look at it like that. I expect them to impress. They are here to impress, whether they're Indian or foreigners. It doesn't make a difference to me who plays, but whoever plays has to give everything in the game and when they give everything in the game and when they understand their job, they will impress. I mean, VP Suhair was very good. Semboi Haokip was unbelievable in the last game in terms of his work rate, he didn't score, but he did so much. So, all of these guys, They're there to impress. That's their job. If they don't impress, they won't be playing. Yeah, I'm happy for Mahesh. I think he has lots more and I hope that he continues the keyword here is that they are consistent. You cannot be fantastic today and then the next two games go missing in action. You need to be consistent. So he was good yesterday. If he's good next game, if he's good the game after, then maybe they should be thinking about him for the national team. This is how I see it. But they have to show that.

It hasn't been quite a few weeks since we have seen Sumeet Passi. Any issues?

Constantine: No issues at the moment. He is working hard, he's trying to get into the team. I said from the beginning, we have 24- 25 players, I don't care who plays. The best person will play. The person who understands his job, and his role then goes out and does that. So you saw Sarthak Golui was the right back. Aniket Jadhav played well yesterday. He will probably play tomorrow. Why? Because he played well and he deserved it. Now if he doesn't play well in the next game, then he's gone next, next man up. This is football. Here's the results-oriented business.

There are 4-5 Spanish footballers on your opponent's side and their coach is also from Spain. So is it a battle between the British and Spain?

Constantine: No, he's not playing and neither am I. So it will be between the 14 Indian players on the pitch and the foreigners, it will be between Odisha FC and East Bengal FC.

Here are the excerpts from Gonzalez's conference :

Any thoughts about the fans you have seen that many fans out there? So what do you think? Does this motivate you a lot to win this game over the game?

Gonzalez: We know that we represent a big club with big fans and for us, It's like pressure, but in a good way. Like we know that we represent a lot of people with a lot of history, but. This is a good thing for us. We can do good performances in the game and if we can win, we are happy.

How do you evaluate your opponents?

Gonzalez: I  mean they have a very clear style. They try to keep the ball, they try to play from the back. I know their Spanish coach and also the Indian coach. He (Clifford Miranda) was my coach at FC Goa. But also when they lose the ball, they press high. Then we know the game they want and we are ready.

This fixture always proves to be the highest-scoring one. So as a defender, how do you want to prepare for the next match? 

Gonzalez: Like any other game. we don't think when we are going to play against teams they didn't score more goals than the other. For us, we are important. Keep the shape and we try to press high, but in a good way, and don't make any mistakes. We need to take the chances when we go up and press. We need to think about ourselves, not about other things. Of course. They play very well, we know. But We take care of ourselves now and not on other things.

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