East Bengal coach: Won't compromise our strategy

East Bengal coach Biswajit Bhattacharya has a philosophy of taking one match at a time and so far his men have fared well in Hero I-League. Significantly, the red & gold outfit staged their first victory against Sporting Clube de Goa in six years and earned a hard-fought draw at Cooperage against Mumbai FC. In spite of a solid start in Hero I-League, the manager can’t afford to lay back, with the all important derby match against Mohun Bagan up next.

East Bengal football team coach Biswajit Bhattacharya snapped during a practice session in Kolkata.   -  Sanjoy Ghosh

East Bengal coach Biswajit Bhattacharya has a philosophy of taking one match at a time and so far his men have fared well in Hero I-League. Significantly, the red & gold outfit staged their first victory against Sporting Clube de Goa in six years and earned a hard-fought draw at Cooperage against Mumbai FC. In spite of a solid start in Hero I-League, the manager can’t afford to lay back, with the all important derby match against Mohun Bagan up next.

On his way back to Kolkata from Mumbai, coach Biswajit Bhattacharya took some time off to discuss his strategy ahead of the much anticipated match.

EXCERPTS:

Question: Kingfisher East Bengal have been haunted by Goalkeeping bloopers time and again. Is Rehenesh a long time solution for the Red & Gold outfit?

Goalkeepers are the unsung heroes of a football team. Five marvellous saves and one silly mistake, spectators don’t spare him for that. It’s a tremendous task to stand under the woodwork. Rehenesh has fared really well in first two outings but nothing is taken for granted in football. The next match might be his bad day in office, who knows? We’re working as a team and Rehenesh is an integral part of that, no doubt about that.

Mohun Bagan defenders have conceded easy goals in first two outings. Will you deploy two strikers upfront?

Dong, Bikash, Mama, Robert everyone is getting accustomed with our playing style and they are complementing each other. They’re getting accustomed where from they are operating at the moment and we don’t see any urgency to make any experiment now. Mohun Bagan are the defending champions and they’ve started their league like the champions. We have to work according to our strengths rather to look to our opponents.

Arnab Mondal and Bello Rasaq are veteran warhorses. Can the youngster Samad Ali Mullick handle the immense pressure of a Derby?

It’s the media and fans who create the hype regarding Derby. There’s absolutely no difference between the opponents in Hero I-League. He has proved his worth in two away fixtures and he deserves the credits to handle the pressure. He needs to keep his head over his shoulders and keep performing well.

Mariners have scored three goals in last two outings from dead ball situation. What measures are you going to take to thwart them?

You have to prepare yourself in every possible department ahead of a game. Be it dead ball situation or shielding the defenders, you have to be at your very best throughout the 90 minutes to come out as the winner.

Glen and Balwant make the most intimidating attacking partnership in Hero I-League. Jeje and Sony have joined recently. Will you adopt a defensive strategy to salvage a draw?

Definitely not. We came back strongly in the second half against Sporting and scored three goals. Our team is well balanced in each department and we don’t see any reason to compromise with our strategy. You’ve to perform on the given day; it’s not played on paper. Whichever team hold their nerves on Saturday, will come out as the winner.

Ranti Martins & Cornell Glen are going to represent two powerhouses in a derby for the first time in the history of Hero I-League. Will their personal rivalry spice up the derby?

They know every nook and cranny of Indian football and they’ve represented quite a few clubs before. If I’m not wrong, Cornell Glen finished just below Ranti last season and both have scored more than 15 goals. It’s not about Mohun Bagan or East Bengal, these guys are prolific strikers and they’ll continue to do their job whichever club they represent.