East Bengal FC head coach Stephen Constantine admitted that his side they were not good enough to take all three points in the Kolkata derby as East Bengal FC went down 0-2 to ATK Mohun Bagan in the Indian Super League (ISL) at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan, here.
As both teams came into this fixture on the back of a win, this Kolkata derby was expected to be a tighter contest than the one in the reverse fixture. Without much surprises, both teams put the pressure on each other in the first half, but the goal by Slavko Damjanovic in the second half changed the momentum in favor of the Mariners. As East Bengal FC pushed for the equaliser, they conceded the second goal in the dying minutes as Dimitri Petratos scored his ninth goal of this season. With this win, ATK Mohun Bagan extended their winning streak against East Bengal FC in Hero ISL history.
Ahead of this fixture, Constantine talked about his team plan of being compact in the defense and exploiting the opposition through counter attacks using Cleiton Silva and Naorem Mahesh Singh. But Juan Ferrando's side did enough to cut those transition movements and it cost the Red and Gold Brigade side. The Englishman agreed that they didn't get enough chances and they were not good enough to take the three points from the match.
"I don't think we had enough of those moments where (we could have changed the match). I don't think we deserved to win this game. But I feel that we were very fortunate not to take a point from this game," Constantine was quoted as saying by ISL.
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"We didn't take care of business at the corner, they scored and when you go 1-0 down, you will try to get a goal back (so we conceded the second goal)," he added.
With this loss, East Bengal FC finished the season at the 10th position in the table, one position above from the last season. But in terms of performances, EBFC had the mixed campaign. They have registered 19 points with six wins, is their highest ever points tally in a season. On the flip side, the Red and Gold Brigade registered 13 losses this season, the most number of losses ever in their history. Constantine cited lack preparation as the main reason for the disappointing season and wanted to change this in the next season.
"I learned that you've got to prepare way before and if you can't start in August and expect to do anything. I have been trying to bring both Indian players and identified foreign players since October. We managed to bring in Jake (Jervis) but I've not been able to bring in several other Indian players that I have targeted. And we need to move quickly because the time is going and in the end we will again be left with players who have been rejected or discarded by other clubs. But then if we can look on the bright side..more points that we've ever had, more goals that we've ever scored, and today the joint top-score of the league is from East Bengal FC," he said.
"So have we made progress from the previous two season in the bubble?..I believe we have," Constantine added.
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Though East Bengal FC will finish at the bottom positions in the Hero ISL standings for a third-straight season, all is not lost for the Red and Gold Brigade. Constantine pointed out three Indian players in the current squad - Naorem Mahesh Singh, Lalchungnunga, Mobashir Rahman - who have the potential to play for Indian national team in the near future. Notably, Mahesh Singh is the top Indian assist provider in this season.
"Lalchungnunga is a very decent prospect. He is a solid defender. He needs work. Of course, he is not the finished article. Mobashir Rahman has been one of our better players in the last five or six games. He may need another good season, but I think he's getting there. Naorem Mahesh has done fantastic. I would say those three players for me are worth monitoring. Maybe they're not ready at the moment to go into the full national team but if they keep improving, next season. I would be picking into the national team," he added.