Margao, December 16: The SC East Bengal journey through the Hero Indian Super League has so far been several heartbreaking instances of being so near, yet so far. Having taken the lead in a number of games, the Red-and-Gold Brigade have found themselves leaking goals in one manner or the other. Head coach Jose Manuel Diaz will look to plug those gaps when SC East Bengal take on NorthEast United FC at the iconic PJN Stadium in Fatorda here.
NorthEast United, who were among the semi-finalists last season, has had a tough start to the tournament as well, sitting at 10th place in the ISL table with four points from six matches. The Highlanders have lost their last two games, and will play to get their ISL campaign back on track.
Talking to the media ahead of the match, Diaz minced no words to let the team know what he demands of them. “We must keep working hard and focus on our strong points. The attitude within the squad is very good. We have to grab the opportunities when it comes our way. The emphasis should be on not making big mistakes during the match,” he said.
The Spaniard relied on hard statistics when asked about his opinion on the performance of the foreign players. “Out of the nine goals we have scored in the tournament, eight have been scored by the foreigners. I’m not unhappy with their performance,” Diaz said.
Though the Highlanders have been in a poor run of form this season, Diaz refused to be complacent, maintaining that it will be a tough match. “NorthEast United was among the best four teams last season. Their team did not have a good start to this season much like us, so it will be a tough match for both teams,” he said.
SC East Bengal have been plagued by injuries ever since the start of the season. However, the coach delivered a positive update on club captain Arindam Bhattacharya’s injury. “Arindam is training with the team and is in contention to start tomorrow’s game,” the coach said, adding that both Jackichand Singh and Darren Sidoel are continuing their rehabilitation.
It remains to be seen whether the return of the skipper can inspire SC East Bengal to their first win of this ISL season.