We have to be defensively stronger: East Bengal FC’s Carles Cuadrat
East Bengal FC will be eyeing their second victory of the season as they host Kerala Blasters FC at their home.
East Bengal FC head Carles Cuadrat wants his team to focus on themselves and not the opposition as they face Kerala Blasters FC in their next Indian Super League (ISL) match at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata on Saturday.
East Bengal FC has managed to secure just one victory in their first four games, enduring back-to-back losses against Bengaluru FC and FC Goa. Defensive lapses have cost them points, despite initially taking the lead in both matches. Nonetheless, Cuadrat's squad has made a stronger start to this season compared to the previous one, currently occupying the 9th position in the points table with four points from four matches.
Kerala Blasters will be missing some key players due to suspension, with Prabir Das and Milos Drinic facing suspensions, and Jeakson Singh sidelined for a period following surgery. Marko Leskovic will also be out with the defender still regaining full fitness. However, Cuadrat is determined not to be preoccupied with the opponent's situation but rather to concentrate on his own team.
"We have to think about ourselves, not the opponent," Cuadrat said during the pre-match press conference. "All the teams have great players, and as we've seen in the last games, all teams have missed some players, but some other players have played in their positions and been instrumental for the team. We have to respect all the players. We can use 15–16 players in a match who can be decisive, so we can't really think about how they are missing some players."
Cuadrat also stressed that it wouldn't be fair to compare their current performance with the previous season, as this marks the beginning of a new project at the club. He said the aim for his team was to progress positively, gaining experience and improving over time. He commended the dedication of his players and urged them to adapt to the dynamics of each match.
"I'm very happy with the way my players are working and the energy being put into the games. The only thing is that we must understand that every game has different dynamics. There is a moment for different things for every game," he said.
Cuadrat, known for his time at Bengaluru FC as head coach, highlighted the significance of scoring goals from set-pieces and capitalising on dead ball situations. He aims to replicate this success at East Bengal FC and enhance their effectiveness in set-piece plays.
In this context, Cuadrat stated, "If you see my history in the ISL or my team's history, we've dominated in set pieces. Until now, the set pieces helped us a lot in the Durand Cup but not in the ISL, and that is something we must improve."
"What we have to change is that we have to be defensively stronger. In the past seasons in the ISL, my teams have gotten a lot of clean sheets, which we've failed so far this season. We are working on this. If you see most of our games, the opponent team is creating chances, and it is coming from set pieces, so we have to work on stopping that. We need to stop letting opponents create a lot of chances," he concluded.
Saul Crespo, present at the press conference with head coach Cuadrat, acknowledged the strength of Kerala Blasters FC but made it clear that East Bengal FC would be aiming for a victory, with the backing of their home support.
"We know that Kerala Blasters FC is a very good team, and they fight for 90 minutes, but we can do the same or better because we have the support, we are in our home, and we will fight to win the match," Crespo asserted.