Win over Chennaiyin FC will bring positivity to East Bengal FC: Stephen Constantine

East Bengal FC head coach Stephen Constantine feels his team needs to play well for the entirety of the match to pick up positive results in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2022-23 season after performing well in patches in their games so far.

The Red and Gold brigade have lost three out of the four games they have played so far, but have had moments in those games that could have changed the outcome of the match in their favour.

Constantine believes the upcoming match against Chennaiyin FC will be an opportunity for his team to hold their level of performance together for the ninety minutes. The head coach believes that such a performance could transform the vibe around the team for the remainder of the campaign.

The Englishman spoke to the media along with midfielder Jordan O’Doherty during the pre-match press conference ahead of the match against Chennaiyin FC.

Here are the excerpts from Constantine's press conference:

How do you assess Chennaiyin FC? They beat ATK Mohun Bagan in their first match in Kolkata.

Any team that comes to Kolkata and beats ATK Mohun Bagan deserves respect. I think they are a decent side. They have got some interesting players and as I said previously, we respect all our opponents. We are at home and we will be looking to get the three points.

You know many players from Chennaiyin FC. So how do you plan to stop them?

I do know a lot of the Indian players in that team. Some of them like Narayan Das and Anirudh Thapa have played for me (in the Indian national team). I am very pleased to see that they have gone on to have the careers that they are having. But we need to win the game, so I am focused on that.

East Bengal FC started really well in the Kolkata derby, but conceded in the second half. Is it a cause for concern?

I thought we had a very good first half against ATK Mohun Bagan. I thought we were the better team. We created more opportunities, and possibly had more possession. But if you don't convert those chances, then you pay. I think ATK Mohun Bagan had one chance with Hugo Boumous and scored and they had a second chance ten minutes later and they scored again. We lost 2-0. But that's football. When you concede a goal, it usually comes from a mistake. I am not overly worried. I thought we were very good in the previous game and won it. We were very good for a good period of time against Kerala Blasters FC and we were very good against FC Goa. It's a new team. So it takes time. We now need to perform for two halves and hopefully, we will do that against Chennaiyin FC.

How easy or difficult is it to recover from a loss in the Kolkata derby given you performed well and didn't get the reward for it?

If we were playing badly, if we were dominated throughout that game, then I would be worried. But we were not dominated by one of the best teams in the Hero ISL, for sure the team with the biggest budget in the Hero ISL. For us, after six-seven weeks as a team, I think it's very positive. Of course, we are not happy that we lost, that's human nature. We will try to get better every week. So far we have done that. We need a good performance and three points against Chennaiyin FC. I think that will make everyone very positive. It's a tough season. The messages that I got from so many fans were very positive. That's because of what the players did on the pitch. Not anything else. In football, you don't always get what you deserve but we will try to give the best possible version of ourselves and hopefully, that results in three points.

Do you think unforced errors are letting East Bengal FC down?

It's easier to say it in hindsight. Mistakes happen in football. But I agree that there have been occasions when we have beaten ourselves rather than the opponent doing something unbelievable. These are the hardest defeats to take. I can accept that when you play a big team, they do well and they kill you. So, yes the unforced errors have been the bad part for us. 

You spoke about luck after the last game but apart from that what does your team need to do to get the points?

I didn't expect that we would win six-seven games in a row. Not from where we are coming from. It's a rebuilding process. It may take time. It may take 20 games, but I believe that we are better in every game. The players are understanding what we want. We are creating more chances. The evidence of that is the best 45 minutes we played this season were against possibly the best team in the Hero ISL. A lapse in concentration and we lost the game. We have to remember where we were last season and the season before that. A top team is not built in a day.

Here are the excerpts from O’Doherty’s press conference:

This is your first season in Hero ISL, so how has been the experience so far?

It's been really enjoyable to play in front of lots of fans. It's something that I haven't experienced before. The Kolkata derby had the most fans that I have ever played in front of. Our fans were louder than ATK Mohun Bagan fans till we conceded. I have really enjoyed experiencing the atmosphere.

Your partnership with Charis Kyriakou has been one of the highlights for East Bengal FC so far this season. What is your take on the partnership?

The whole team has been working on our shape and on being consistent. It's been good playing with Charis as we are getting a good understanding with each other. That's for everyone on the pitch. We are trying to learn what we want to do on the pitch. The Indian players are also developing a good understanding on the way we want to move forward. That is why we are improving every game. We are training hard on the training pitch for this.

Where do you think the team can improve?

For me, the positives are outweighing the negatives at this stage. Yes, there may be personal errors which happen in football but the way we are improving as a team and we showed that against the best team in the league against whom we were the better team for 60 minutes of the match. There are no easy games in this league. that doesn't mean anyone is unbeatable. We need to concentrate on ourselves and the way we continue to improve as a team. Hopefully, then the points will come for us, I'm sure.

This year there are around ten players from Australia in the Hero ISL and you are one of them. What has lured Australian players to the Hero ISL and how has your experience been in India so far?

I think the fact that we are classed as an Asian player, helps us to come into the league. Of course, there are more Australian players coming into the league which provides a better view of the league for other Australian players. It's much more accessible for us to speak to the other players in the league. I have really liked my time so far in the league. There are lots of things that we can improve on as a team, but that's what we are working towards.

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