Margao, February 21: SC East Bengal will be hoping to put a dent in the top four hopes of Mumbai City FC when they take on the defending champions in a Hero Indian Super League encounter at the PJN Stadium in Fatorda on Tuesday.
Mumbai sit at fifth position on the ISL table, with 25 points from 16 matches, and will need to be at their best in the remaining matches to give themselves any chance of qualifying for the ISL semi-finals. SC East Bengal occupy 11th place, with 10 points from 17 matches.
SCEB coach Mario Rivera insisted that MCFC will feel the heat, but sounded cautious of the arsenal they possess in their artillery. “Mumbai City FC will need to win to reach the top four, so the pressure will be on them. But they have big-game players who know how to deliver under pressure, so it will not be an easy game for us either,” Rivera said while speaking to the media at the pre-match press conference.
Rivera believes the teams in the ISL can hardly be distinguished based on quality. “I keep saying this, ISL is a very competitive league, where there’s not much of a difference between the teams in the top half and bottom half. Any team can beat any team on their day,” Rivera asserted.
So how will SC East Bengal approach the game against Mumbai City FC? Rivera said, “If we play for a draw, we can stop them with a little luck like we did in the first leg; but we are going to go for the win. We will have to take some risks and we are ready for it, because SC East Bengal has a rich history behind it and it has always played to win: we need to respect that.”
The Spaniard was all praise for left-back Hira Mondal, who has shown immense maturity and guile this season. “Hira is a fantastic player and has a very distinctive set of skills. I talk to him a lot. If he keeps going like this and learn every day, he will be in the national team soon. But for now, he needs to learn more and correct his mistakes. He is on the right track though,” Rivera said.