SC East Bengal currently lies at the bottom of the table, but coach Mario Rivera believes that his side can defeat the Mariners irrespective of their league position. Rivera wants his men to be focused on the game and wants them to consider the Kolkata derby of utmost importance.
It’s been three years since SC East Bengal won the Kolkata derby. Mario spoke on if he 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. After that match, if you win, you have to begin again from scratch and even if you lose, it’s the same.”
Mario Rivera is well aware of the importance of this game, having enjoyed a 100% record in the pre-ISL derbies. He was asked how he is planning to motivate the boys, especially the foreign contingent ahead of this prestigious battle?
“Yes, I’m explaining to 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.”
Mario was asked if he has plans to stop ATK Mohun Bagan’s attacking line.
“Yes, they have one of the best attacking lines, 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. Mario shared his views.
“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.”
Rivera also shared how he motivated the players for this tough fixture after a 4-0 loss.
“Yes, sometimes the best situation after losing against a team like Hyderabad FC 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, Mario was asked if he thinks the players need more psychological inputs rather than tactical ones. This is what the gaffer said,
“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 his first game in charge against FC Goa? Mario expressed his thoughts on the 4-0 loss against Hyderabad FC.
“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, try and keep it, and try to improve on the negatives that you made in the match. This is the same way for every match.”
Is it possible to see Fran Sota and Marcelo Ribiero play together in the derby? Fans are eagerly looking to see the two January signings play together in the derby but it seems they might have to wait for some more time in order to see them play together.
“Marcelo will definitely play in the derby but for Fran Sota, it’s too early because he was in the quarantine for too long. Also, he was infected with Covid and it took him more time than we expected. He will be prepared to play some minutes but he won’t start the match for sure.”
Mario Rivera was questioned on if 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.”
Mario spoke about if there is 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”
Rivera also shares about how he approaches this match against ATK Mohun Bagan in the whole context of SC East Bengal’s ISL aspirations and how East Bengal’s problems will be effectively addressed with the new signings in the January transfer window. This is what the gaffer stated before concluding.
“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.”
ATK Mohun Bagan lock horns with SC East Bengal at the Fatorda Stadium tonight at 7:30 PM IST.
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