We would go all out against Mumbai City FC: East Bengal FC's Stephen Constantine
East Bengal FC head coach Stephen Constantine stated that his team would go all out against the Islanders as they take on Mumbai City FC in their final away game of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2022-23 at the Mumbai Football Arena, in Mumbai, on Sunday.
Both teams are coming to the fixture with defeats in their respective previous matches. The Red and Gold brigade suffered their 12th defeat of the season while the Islanders tasted defeat for the first time this season against Bengaluru FC.
In the reverse fixture, the Islanders won 3-0 in December. The side would be looking to end their season with a victory against the Kolkata side. Constantine stated how he expects a cracking game against Mumbai City FC, with both teams going neck-to-neck.
"They (Mumbai City FC) won the league two-three weeks ago and I'm pretty sure they didn't want to lose against Bengaluru FC and lose their invincible tag. I expect them to play hard and be professional, which is a trademark of the team and coach Des Buckingham. I expect them to come all out because we would go all out. I'm expecting a difficult game," Constantine said in the official pre-match press conference.
The Red and Gold Brigade lost 12 out of the 18 matches and crashed out of the playoffs race after failing to keep up with the top six. Constantine highlighted how no other team has managed to outplay them except for the Islanders whilst mentioning the positives of their season thus far.
"If we look at our season from the beginning to the end, we were not outplayed except when we played Mumbai City FC in the reverse fixture. They were the only team I'd say we struggled against for the 90 minutes. In all of the other games, I believe that we were very close to taking points or actually winning the game. The positives for me are that we've one or two players who have emerged from the reserve team, we've Nunga (Lalchungnuga), we have the top scorer in the league (Cleiton Silva) with us. When you think about it, you can't understand how a team who's in the ninth position have the top scorer, we must be doing something to allow him to become the top scorer," Constantine said.
Off to Mumbai for #MCFCEBFC! ✈️#JoyEastBengal #HeroISL #EastBengalFC #IndianFootball pic.twitter.com/vXuPWUUIwO— East Bengal FC (@eastbengal_fc) February 18, 2023
The Torchbearers have won five out of their 18 matches in the league, managing more victories as compared to their last two campaigns in the Hero ISL. The Englishman expressed how a difficult start to the season did damage, and reflected on the changes needed to be done in the team.
"This year was the first time we're playing outside the bubble. We've managed to win more games than the previous two seasons. This is not where we want to be but when you're not prepared from the beginning and you don't plan ahead, then you're not in control of things. Going forward, I know which players we should keep, which players we should remove and which players we should bring. If you look at the results, we haven't lost 4-0 or 5-0 which could've been the case quite easily," Constantine stated.
The Kolkata giants have seen a drop in the number of fans attending the home matches with the team underperforming. Constantine explained the significance of fans in the team and emphasised on creating a fearsome atmosphere for the opposition.
"The fans are not coming not because of the team's performance but for other reasons. I hope the fans come to support us for the Derby because when fans fill up the stadium, it's a very tough place to be in. Teams are scared to even before kicking the ball, I hope the fans come because they are our 12th man," Constantine concluded.
Defender Sarthak Golui accompanied Constantine in the official pre-match press conference. The 25-year-old has played 11 games this season, making 40 clearances and 16 interceptions while getting his name on the scoresheet once. The defender explained the importance of the last two games and wants the team to give it their all.
"Every game is important to us because of our current situation. The season hasn't gone well at all for us. We'll try to win the last two games and end the season on a positive note,' Golui said in the official pre-match press conference.
East Bengal FC would end their Hero ISL campaign with arguably one of the biggest games of the season, the Kolkata Derby. Constantine's men host the Mariners on February 25th. Golui revealed that the team is aligned on the same page and wants them be wary of the threats possessed by Mumbai City FC.
'Everyone knows the value of the derby but now we're only thinking about the MCFC game. Mumbai City FC are the League Shield Winners. They might have lost one game but I think they are the strongest side in the league this year. The current form of (Lallianzuala)Channgte, Bipin (Singh), and (Greg) Stewart will obviously worry every team. Our coach is preparing his strategy accordingly and we will follow it. And as a defender, I'll try to give my best for the team.