East Bengal FC head coach Carles Cuadrat says his team is ready for the fight when they face Hyderabad FC in Matchweek 15 of the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 season at the GMC Balayogi Athletic Stadium in Hyderabad on Saturday.

The Red and Golds currently sit tenth on the league table with 12 points off 13 games, having register three wins in the process. Their opponents, Hyderabad FC, on the other hand, have only four points to their name in 14 matches, failing to win even a single match so far this season.  

East Bengal FC will aim to steal all three points against Hyderabad FC to not only get back to winning ways, but also increase their chances of making it through to the playoffs.

The Spanish tactician believes his team is ready to fight for the three points even with injuries to players such as Jose Pardo and Saul Crespo. While the extend of Crespo's injury is unknown, Pardo has been ruled out for the season. 

Sharing his approach toward the match, Cuadrat said in the pre-match press conference, “We know that it's the kind of games that we have to win to be in the top positions. So everybody is very focused knowing that we have two important players out. But at least we are ready to start with four foreigners. So it means that the team is going to be ready to try to fight for the three points.”

While Pardo's injury has been a big blow for the club, they have signed Serbian professional Aleksandar Pantic to replace the Spaniard. The head coach is happy that his club is taking fast action to fill up the spaces.

It means that the club is working very well. We have an injury and we replaced him very fast,” stated Cuadrat.

He added, “I am very disappointed about Pardo’s injury because he was helping us a lot. But it's top-level football and we have to try to achieve the best for the team to keep in the competition and it was very difficult to find players at that moment in the market. But fortunately, we have been working well with the scouting.”

Caudrat gave an injury update on defender Harmanjot Khabra, clarifying that the player won’t be available for the next two games as he is still in recovery.

“Khabra is working in recovery, but he is still not ready for the next two games,” he stated.

Forwad Ajay Chhetri has featured in the starting eleven for East Bengal FC in their previous three league games. He scored his first goal of the season against Mohun Bagan Super Giant in the Kolkata Derby, which ended in a 2-2 draw.

Speaking on the improvement that he has seen in Ajay Chhetri, Cuadrat said, “I think that it was very good for him to play in the I-League last season in a club like Punjab FC. I think that it was a very good opportunity that he grabbed to have game time, to be part of the decision-making, to get more physical, to understand the things that happen when you are in the middle of the match. And I'm very happy that he agreed to return to East Bengal FC for a second stint. And I think that he's doing very well,” stated Cuadrat.

The team is positive: Ajay Chhetri

Chhetri accompanied Cuadrat to the press conference. Speaking about the atmosphere in the dressing room after two back-to-back defeats, the 24-year-old shared, “I think we are really positive, the coach is positive and the team is positive. And you know we are looking forward to play in the playoffs.”

Chhetri concluded the press conference by sharing how he looks up to Souvik Chakrabarti as a mentor and believes that his former Hyderabad FC teammate is getting better and better with age.

“I was together with him at Hyderabad FC. He's a great guy. And I think with his age, he's playing better and better. I think I have to tell him you are just 20, 26 now because he's getting better and better every day and he's doing really good. And I'm looking up to him for how to play and, you know, learning from him,” Chhetri said.