We still have a long way to go: East Bengal head coach Stephen Constantine
East Bengal FC head coach Stephen Constantine said his side were in a rebuilding phase and he urged his team to improve from their mistakes despite a 0-2 defeat in the Kolkata Derby against ATK Mohun Bagan in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL).
The Red & Golds gave a good account of themselves in the opening half against ATKMB that ended goalless, but second-half goals from Hugo Boumous and Manvir Singh helped the Mariners claim the bagging rights.
The defeat means that East Bengal have now lost three of their four games in Hero ISL 2022-23 so far. Constantine said there is no one to blamed for the defeat and he urged his side to continue working hard.
Here are the excerpts from Constantine’s post-match press conference:
Do you think the goalkeeper’s error turned the match around?
First and foremost, I want to thank both sets of fans. They created an excellent atmosphere and many congratulations to ATK Mohun Bagan for the win.
Football is full of mistakes, tonight it was the goalkeeper and on some other day it could have been anyone else. We cannot blame the keeper solely and, right from the start, we were the better team in the first half. We created enough opportunities to score and, had we made an impact with those chances, then, of course, the result of the game would have been different in the end. But by the time they (ATK Mohun Bagan) scored the second goal, the game had gone out of our hands.
Your team lost the match, but what were the reasons behind losing the way East Bengal FC did tonight?
We are in a rebuilding process. It is a new team management and it is going to take time. But with every passing game, we are doing better and, with five to six key players in the squad, I think we are one of the best teams in the league.
We have plenty to build on and there is competition for places, which will help us to keep getting better as the season progresses.
Do you think there was a gulf in quality on an individual level between the two teams?
The opponent knows about their strengths and I know about my team’s strengths. ATK Mohun Bagan have an ample amount of quality in their squad and most teams are going to have a problem facing them home and away.
You have suffered three defeats after four games so far in the season. How disappointed are you with that? What are your plans to cope with this?
Every team is trying to get into the playoffs and win a championship. The season is still a long way to go, and we will take it one game at a time. We are trying to lay the foundations for the future of East Bengal FC. There has been ample amount of improvements in every game, we will continue to keep working hard.
Regardless of the result tonight, what do you think about the atmosphere you experienced tonight?
The capacity of the stadium tonight was close to 62,000. It was fantastic to experience it beforehand after being behind closed doors in the previous seasons.
This is what we play the game for, to make the fans happy. It is a massive honour to play in such huge games, the biggest league game between two of the biggest clubs in the country. I would obviously like to win one and be on the happier end while enjoying the game with the fans.
You always say that the team makes its own luck and everyone knows you are a keen believer in that. Tonight, the goalkeeping error took the vibe out of the team. Do you think it takes your team a bit backwards with respect to your plan and for someone who makes their own luck?
Not really. It has been the same old story so far in all the four games, but in football you win some of them with luck, and on other days luck plays a huge part. Eventually, that gets evened out as the season progresses.
It was always going to be a tough time out there tonight against ATK Mohun Bagan in the Kolkata Derby. We never want to disappoint the fans, their faith and expectations, as it drives us to keep getting better.
ATK Mohun Bagan were clinical in front of the goal, scoring two goals while we did not. That is football, and that was the game.