We need to make some changes: East Bengal FC head coach Stephen Constantine
East Bengal FC head coach, Stephen Constantine was critical of his team's first half performance as FC Goa recorded a 4-2 win over East Bengal FC in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, in Goa, on Thursday.
Iker Guarrotxena's hat-trick within the first half put FC Goa at the driving seat. The away side pushed hard in the starting minutes of the second half, but it was the home side which got the fourth goal through Brandon Fernandes's free-kick. East Bengal FC tried to get into the game through Suhair Vadakkepeedika and Sarthak Golui's goals but it was too late to bridge the gap. Constantine admitted that they were not good in the first half and it was hard to get the result they wanted after conceding early goals.
"We were terrible in the first half and then we conceded from the free kick to make it 4-0, but after that we started to play and scored two goals, should have got the third but it's not good enough. You can't give teams a two-three goal lead and expect to take anything from the game. So, it's been like this all season for us. We play just 60 minutes or 45 minutes and you can't win games like that, so we need to make some changes," Constantine said in the post-match press conference.
A spirited second half showing but we fall short at the Fatorda. #JoyEastBengal #HeroISL #আমাগোমশাল #FCGEBFC #EastBengalFC #IndianFootball #LetsFootball pic.twitter.com/VrYSzA5bh6— East Bengal FC (@eastbengal_fc) January 26, 2023
In the second half, East Bengal FC got more control of the ball than what they did in the opening goal and got two goals back. However, it was Guarrtxena's first-half hat-trick which made it difficult for the away side to mount a comeback. The EBFC head coach talked about the impact of conceding three goals in a quick time, and mentioned it was too late when they started to fight back.
"When you concede two-three goals in such a short space of time, it really knocks the confidence, your heads drop. They (EBFC players) are a group of boys, they work very hard. We may not have the quality that we need sometimes but in the second half, they reacted to that. Of course it was too little too late," he said.
With this loss, East Bengal FC remained in the ninth position in the Hero ISL table with 12 points and it would take a herculean task for the club to get into the playoffs from this point. Constantine acknowledged that and hinted that they have started planning for the next season. However, one positive for Constantine from this game, was the debut of defender Athul Unnikrishnan, a player from the reserve team and also, playing time for Tuhin Das, another player from reserve side.
"The positives for me from this game is where we had the two boys (in the game), who were playing for the reserves. That hasn't happened for a very long time. That doesn't make losing any easier, but at least there's some development that has to be good for the club, going forward," Constantine said.
"I wouldn't evaluate Athul (Unnikrishnan) based on the eight minutes that he played. It was important to get him in at the right moment, Indian players need to get the experience of playing, the younger the better in my opinion. And we will do that in East Bengal FC, we are all on for development as long as they're good enough. Tuhin (Das) did okay when he went in. Obviously, they need to work and they're not going to be regular starters. But, I think they have potential and we need them," he concluded.