We have our own strong points, so don’t need underdog tag: SC East Bengal coach Manuel Diaz

Acknowledging the country’s biggest and the oldest rivalry, SC East Bengal coach Manolo Diaz remained unfazed by the ‘underdog tag’ handed to his team and is confident of a positive result against arch-rivals ATK Mohun Bagan on Saturday at the Tilak Maidan Stadium in Vasco da Gama, Goa.

Diaz urged his players to up their game and identify the weak points of the Mariners, in order to achieve their first Hero ISL win over their city rivals.

The SC East Bengal manager addressed the media during a pre-match press conference.

Here are the excerpts from the manager’s press conference:

Given that you are trying to build up a team in such a short time, do you think the Kolkata derby has come too early for you and your team?

This match is particularly important because it’s a historic derby and we know the importance of derby matches. This is the second official match and we’re not looking for any excuses. We will try to do our best, and we know that ATKMB is a good team, have a good coach but we will give everything.

What do you feel are your strengths going into the game against ATK Mohun Bagan?

We must have a strong structure and we need to learn from our mistakes. Having a solid structure, we can improve our level during the match, looking for the weak points against ATK Mohun Bagan.

Given the form ATK Mohun Bagan have shown last season and in the first match against Kerala Blasters, do you think the ‘underdog tag’ will help SC East Bengal?

We think it’s unnecessary to have the ‘Underdog Tag’. We create our own strong points. ATKMB performed well in the last season, but we are prepared to take them on.

Will you stick to the two defender, two striker combination that you used against Jamshedpur FC? Or are you thinking of using Darren Sidoel or Amir Dervisevic as a midfielder and opt for a single striker upfront?

In this fixture, we are working out different options and we have different combinations because we have many matches in a short period of time, so we’ll see how it works out.

Would you use man-to-man marking or zonal marking to stop Roy Krishna and Hugo Boumous?

It depends on the situation in the match, we can do man-to-man or even zonal marking. If the ball is close to our box, we’ll mainly do man-to-man marking. It also depends on the area where the ball is.

Who is a bigger threat, Roy Krishna or Hugo Boumous?

For me, the entire squad is a good squad because one or two players cannot win you a match, the whole squad wins you a match.

Antonio Perosevic was impressive in the first match? Will he be the X-Factor in the derby?

Antonio did a decent job in the last match, but if he doesn’t have a good squad behind him, he cannot do his job properly.

What are the areas you feel the team needs to work on to win against ATKMB?

We must have a strong structure, we must have accurate passing, and in attacking positions, we need to create more opportunities to threaten ATKMB as we are defending most of the time, so it’s difficult.

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