When it comes to the derby, the players don’t need motivation: SC East Bengal’s Mario Rivera

SC East Bengal head coach Mario Rivera wants his team to be completely focused on the derby irrespective of the team’s league position, as his side meets city rivals ATK Mohun Bagan in matchday 75 of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2021-22 season at the PJN Stadium in Margao, Goa.

Winless against the Mariners in the Hero ISL, Rivera stated that his players don’t need any motivation for the derby and wants them to consider the derby of utmost importance. Rivera admitted that the absence of supporters will be missed during the match and will elaborate to his players about the importance of the historic Kolkata derby.

Ahead of the much-awaited Kolkata derby, the Red and Gold Brigade head coach addressed the media during a pre-match press conference.

Here are the excerpts from the coach’s press conference:   

It’s been three years since SC East Bengal won the Kolkata derby. Do you think you can turn the tables this time around and how difficult will it be given that the team is on the back of a 4-0 defeat?

Yes, of course, we can win the derby. When you’re playing a derby, you never mind the position in the table, you are facing your top rival and you are ready to win. Be it the position or the situation of the team, nothing is important before the derby.

After last match’s defeat, the players were professional, and this is normal, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, and sometimes you draw. One of the top football coaches in the world said that the footballers and coaches have to be ready because you will lose more times than you will win. And after that match, if you win, you have to begin again from scratch and even if you lose, it’s the same.

You know the importance of this game, and you enjoy a 100% record in derbies. How are you planning to motivate the boys, especially the foreign contingent ahead of this prestigious battle?

Yes, I’m explaining the foreign players about the Kolkata derby because they will play without the crowd and for them it’s important to understand that. Today, I will show them some videos of great matches at the Salt Lake Stadium with a fully packed stadium with both supporters and a very nice atmosphere of the derby. They will miss this situation, but they need to know how important it is for our supporters to win the derby.

How are you planning to stop ATK Mohun Bagan’s attacking line?

Yes, they have one of the best attacking line, and we need to stop them while they’re making the [forward] runs. If they make their runs, we’ll have problems and we’ll need to withdraw quickly and reduce the space at the back. If we can succeed in these two things, we have a chance to win.

Many feel that SC East Bengal will start as heavy underdogs in the derby. What do you make of it?

Yes, I already said that it’s not a real situation. Professional players always play to win the game. I think that sometimes when you look from outside, you can say that, but if you see the players training, you can see that they are preparing properly to win the match.

How do you motivate the players for this tough fixture after a 4-0 loss?

Yes, sometimes the best situation after losing against a team like Hyderabad is to play the other way because sometimes you need to stop the motivation for some players, not to increase the motivation. If you are playing a normal match, you need motivation, but when it comes to a derby, the players don’t need much motivation, sometimes you need to stop the motivation.

After the heavy defeat against Hyderabad FC, do you think the players need more psychological inputs rather than tactical ones?

No, I think every aspect is equally important. You need the top level in technical, tactical, psychological, and fitness aspects to win a match. One aspect is not more important just because we lost the last match, all aspects are equally important for all the matches.

Was there complacency in the last game after winning your first game in-charge against FC Goa?

It is the same, that if we lose after winning, you have to start again from scratch to prepare for the next match. Always take the positives, to try and keep it, and to try to improve on the negatives that you made in the match. This is the same way for every match.

Do you think the pressure will be more on ATK Mohun Bagan this time, as they will be desperate to win this game and break into the top four?

Yes, of course. They are fighting and are close to being in the top four, they are the favourites, and I think they have more pressure, but in another way, it’s almost the same. Both of us need the three points, but they need to win, a draw is not useful for them to reach the top four.

Is there any specific plan to disrupt ATK Mohun Bagan’s well-oiled passing?

There’s no specific plan as such. We are defending well against the positional attack of teams. For us, it’s more important about the transition which is where we want to improve. But the positional attack of ATK Mohun Bagan is not a special situation for us because we are defending well. We stopped FC Goa who have better positional attacking, and, in this situation, we will try our best to stop ATK Mohun Bagan.

How do you see the match against ATK Mohun Bagan in the whole context of SC East Bengal’s ISL aspirations? Can we say that East Bengal’s problems will be effectively addressed with the new signings in the January transfer window?

The whole situation is that it’s a derby and we will miss the supporters, but nothing special and nothing more to say about that. Regarding our new signings, now we will have a more balanced team and we will improve every match and we don’t have too much time and the new players need to get fit soon, but we will get better each match.

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