East Bengal FC head coach Carles Cuadrat said his their upcoming Indian Super League (ISL) clash against Bengaluru FC will be like final as both teams fight it out at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan Stadium, Kolkata on Sunday.

East Bengal FC currently sits just one place below their opponents, Bengaluru FC, occupying the ninth position with 21 points garnered from five wins and six draws. Cuadrat's side enter the match fresh off an impressive 4-2 victory over Kerala Blasters FC, breaking a three-match losing streak and reigniting their playoff aspirations with a remarkable comeback win in Kochi.

Meanwhile, Gerard Zaragoza's Bengaluru FC holds the eighth spot on the league table with 22 points accumulated from five victories and seven draws. The Blues find themselves among the four teams, including East Bengal FC, vying for the final playoff spot alongside NorthEast United FC and Chennaiyin FC.

In anticipation of the crucial fixture, Cuadrat reflected on his team's progress throughout the season and discussed the preparations leading up to their encounter with Bengaluru FC.

"We don't have time for a lot of preparations because, you know, we're playing every three games and we just travelled back from Kerala some days back. So there is not a lot of time. But I think that it's (Matchweek) 21 now and we are fighting for a place in the playoffs. I think it's the most important thing. The work that the guys have been putting in all this season led us to be in a completely new situation for East Bengal FC because it's our fourth season in the ISL and this is the first time that we arrived to the last rounds of the (league) competition fighting for a place in the playoffs," He shared during the press conference.

In the previous encounter back in October, Bengaluru FC secured a 2-1 victory over East Bengal FC at their home ground. Despite East Bengal FC initially taking the lead, the Blues mounted a remarkable comeback to clinch all three points. Cuadrat made it clear that he does not view the upcoming match as an opportunity to seek redemption, instead urging his team to concentrate on executing their game plan effectively.

"No, it's not revenge. It's just a match in that both teams are fighting for a place in the playoffs. I think that we are going to take it as a final in the same way that Bengaluru FC is going to take it as a final. So, yeah, just to try to do our own job and to be effective."

East Bengal FC currently trail Chennaiyin FC by three points in the league standings, with Chennaiyin FC occupying the sixth position. Following their match against Bengaluru FC, East Bengal FC will face Punjab FC away from home in their final league fixture. To secure a historic spot in the ISL playoffs for the first time, East Bengal FC must secure maximum points in their remaining two matches and rely on favorable results from other fixtures. Cuadrat acknowledged the challenge ahead, noting that while his side deserves a place in the top six, achieving this goal won't be easy.

He said: "Players are motivated, we had a nice pre-match talk before the last game, where I was expressing what we need and the tactical things that we need in the match plan because I was not on the bench in the last match. You can see that on the pitch, they gave everything. It didn’t matter I was not on the bench, because they knew how important the game was for the club. Tomorrow it's going to be the same. They are going to be motivated 100% because they know that it's the end of the season (and) that we deserve (to be in the playoffs) ater all the work, after all the things that we have been fighting against. It's kind of a good finish if we get that sixth position."

"But of course, there are still a lot of teams fighting for that. And every team for sure, they feel that they deserve it. So it's just a question of being focused on the game and the good things that we can do to beat a difficult team like Bengaluru FC with a lot of good players, top players," he added.

I have to stop Sunil Chhetri: Nishu Kumar

Full-back Nishu Kumar accompanied head coach Carles Cuadrat during the pre-match press conference ahead of their clash against Bengaluru FC.

Kumar has had a solid season so far as a defender under Cuadrat. He has made 18 appearances for his team and helped them maintain three clean sheets in the process. Kumar has also been crucial to the team's offensive plays, providing 10 goal-scoring chances and two assists.

During the press conference, Kumar was asked about his strategy for stopping Bengaluru FC's captain and forward, Sunil Chhetri.

"It's always the same. You know I have played against him before also. So he's a very clever player and you know is very experienced. So It will be difficult. But as I am a full-back I have to stop him. Whatever it takes, I'm ready for that," he said during the pre-match press conference.

The 26-year-old shared his thoughts on facing former club Bengaluru FC and discussed his team's approach for the remainder of the season.

"You know, the last two games it's very important for us to win and the last game we won. So everyone is positive. I am very positive as it's a very important game for us. I know Bangalure FC. They are playing really well. They have good players. But at the same time, we are ready and we need those three points tomorrow. So we don't need motivation. Actually, everyone is already motivated for tomorrow's game. I'm excited to play," he stated as the press conference came to an end.