Margao, February 6: After an inspiring turnaround against a formidable Chennaiyan FC side, SC East Bengal will be looking to keep up the momentum when they take on Odisha FC in a crucial Hero Indian Super League encounter at the Tilak Maidan on Monday.
Odisha FC, who are still in the race for the top four play-offs, sit at 8th in the ISL points table, with 18 points from 14 games, but have a chance to move up to 5th with a win against SC East Bengal. The Red-&-Gold Brigade, on the other hand, are currently at 10th place, with 10 points from 15 games.
SCEB will draw a lot of heart from their previous match’s performance, a point stressed by SCEB coach Mario Rivera. “The performance against Chennaiyan FC in the second half was one of our best. It will be right up the list, along with the first half of the 2nd leg of Kolkata Derby,” Rivera said at the pre-match press conference.
When asked about what the half-time talk revolved around before the miraculous comeback, Rivera said, “In the dugout at midway, I asked the players to be braver. I asked them to play freely and they delivered.”
SC East Bengal is virtually out of the top four race and will be playing for pride, although Rivera insisted that the players will not be lacking motivation when they play their remaining matches. “The players are professionals, they are hungry to win every match, score goals. So there's no question about any lack of motivation. We are not looking at the points table now; we are taking it match-by-match. We want to win the next three points up for grabs and then move on to the next one,” the Spaniard said.
Rivera rated the Odisha FC side very highly and termed it as a ‘complete team’. “Odisha FC is a balanced side; they always have four + two players behind the ball, so it's very difficult to surprise them. They have some good players who have ISL as well as La Liga experience. Their wingers are fast too,” Rivera said.
On being asked about his take on new striker Marcelo Ribeira Dos Santos, Rivera heaped praises on the Brazilian. “Marcelo has been working really hard, providing us with chances in the opponent half. He won almost all the duels in the Chennaiyan FC match. He is involved in all our attacks one way or the other. He cannot be only assessed by the number of goals, as he is a vital cog in SCEB's attacking threat,” Rivera signed off.