SC East Bengal scripted their first win of the campaign against FC Goa on 19th January. It may have taken them 12 games to get their first 3 points but signs of improvement had been imminent ever since Manolo Diaz was released and Assistant Coach Renedy Singh took charge.
Now, Mario Rivera finds himself on the hot seat and in a good position after beating the Gaurs in his first game in charge. He will look to make it two out of two for the century-old club as they strive to finish at a respectable position in the table with the playoff spots still not entirely beyond their reach.
Read the excerpts from his pre-match press conference as the Red and Gold brigade plays Hyderabad FC tomorrow.
“It will not be easy (against Hyderabad) but the win in the last game will help us a lot. It will help boost the confidence of the players to work harder. The team now has the confidence to start playing with the balls, combining with each other. The team morale is good, if we see the last few games, only a side with high team morale can defend so well.”, said Rivera.
Ever since Hyderabad inflicted the 6-1 thrashing on Odisha, the Nizams have failed to secure a win, picking up only 2 points out of a possible 9. They are fourth in the table but a win tomorrow will see them return to the top of the table for the first time since 5th January.
Quizzed about what he makes of the Nizams, Rivera opined, “For me, Hyderabad is one of the best teams in the league. They are maybe the most balanced team that attack and defend very well. They have a very good coach who adapted quickly to Indian Football last season. They also have the top scorer in the league, but for me, they are the most balanced side.”
SC East Bengal have signed 24-years old Brazilian striker Marcelo Ribeiro to replace Daniel Chima who has joined Jamshedpur FC in the January transfer window. Rivera spoke about his availability for the match tomorrow.
“Yes, Marcelo will participate in the match tomorrow. We do not know yet whether he will be a starter or will come on in the second half. He is ready to play and we will check how many minutes we will give him.”
The Red and Gold brigade did a much-improved job at holding the ball and making more technical choices across the pitch against an FC Goa side that are arguably the best in the league at controlling the tempo of matches. Speaking about this shift in tactics, Mario asserted, “Yes, we are trying to do that (keep possession). It’s difficult to start doing it in the middle of the season but the team is getting more confident as we are training every day and believing the idea.”
The match will once again test the mettle of the East Bengal players who have started making it a habit of frustrating teams with consolidated defending at the back led by Adil Khan, one of their star performers in the last few games. They will look to take it one step further and control the match against a Hyderabad FC side that is desperate for a victory.
Kick-off is at 7:30 pm at the Tilak Maidan.
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