Super Cup: Aizawl gears up for East Bengal challenge

Having defeated Chennaiyin FC in the round of 16, Aizawl FC will look to continue its winning run when it takes on East Bengal on Sunday.

East Bengal coach Khaild Jamil and Brazilian defender Eduardo Ferreira address the media ahead of the Super Cup tie against Aizawl FC.   -  AIFF Media

After registering a remarkable win over reigning ISL champion Chennaiyin FC in the round of 16, Aizawl FC now faces heavyweight East Bengal in the last-eight stage of the Super Cup on Sunday.

"I believe top teams are under pressure now. They have to win the championship and they have their own plans to implement. Chennaiyin were the favourites against us. East Bengal will also start as the favourites and we're happy to be the underdogs and stage upsets," said Aizawl coach Santosh Kashyap.

"They have to perform better and beat us. East Bengal could not win any silverware this season and expectations are huge from them," he added.

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Although the side had garnered a win against Chennaiyin, it succumbed to Bengaluru FC in the AFC Cup two days back. Kashyap denied that the schedule might take a toll on the players. "It's a good opportunity for us. Yes, the schedule is tight but it happens in football. We're here to give our best and win, that's it."

"I have a fantastic set of players who can make the difference on the pitch. Dodoz, Mapuia, Kima have the pace and the capability to score against any opponent. Masih, Andrei, Alfred all are in perfect shape and we believe in our abilities," Kashyap further added.

Andrei Ionescu, the architect of Aizawl's last win, said that team's win is more important than his scoring. "We respect East Bengal as opponents. But the game is not played by numbers or names. It starts with the whistle and ends with it. We have come here with a strong positive mentality and we believe that we can beat them tomorrow."

"Winning is important. I would be happy to contribute to the win. That's my primary concern, not scoring," Ionescu stated.

East Bengal, which made a stunning comeback against Mumbai City FC, will take on familiar foes tomorrow. Incidentally, the Kolkata-based team had failed to secure a single win against the Mizo-outfit this season. But Brazilian defender, Eduardo Ferreira, feels it's time to look forward and move on from the I-League.

"Every game is like final here. We have come to play our natural game and win it. Yes, we conceded goals in I-League, but that is past. We don't look back into the past, rather we focus on the future. We are concentrating on tomorrow's game but nothing else."

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He added, "The match will be played on the field. They lost an AFC Cup game and that'll make them hungrier. They will give everything on the pitch. We are aware of their capabilities and we are ready to take them on."

Coach Khalid Jamil pointed out that facing a 'known' opponent is advantageous but there is a flip side too. "We have a fair idea about them and we can set our strategies accordingly. On the other hand, they also know us vividly and that might help them outwit us," he said.

The soft-spoken coach brushed the 'favourite' tag aside, saying "No one is going to start as favourites. Whoever puts more effort and works harder on the pitch, gets the positive result and tomorrow will be no different."