East Bengal, the Kolkata giants have started their season brightly bagging the Federation Cup, going one step further than the previous time. The Red& Golds will be looking to rewrite the Fed Cup script in the I-League as well, going one step better in the country’s premier football tournament as well.
The Red and Golds have got off to a fairytale start, having won six out of the eight games and splitting points in the remaining two. They have been on top of their game, dictating play against quality opponents. They have scored goals at will and have been miserly in gifting away goals, having conceded just one in eight games, which is nothing short of remarkable. TheHardTackle ‘s Guest Author Anubhav Roda had a word with East Bengal Coach Trevor James Morgan about his sides’ run and analyzes the East Bengal journey so far. It can be safely said that the British coach is the main reason behind East Bengal’s brilliant run of past two seasons.
On Tuesday, East Bengal contined to lead the table after breaking down a gritty Salgaocar defense to eke out a narrow 10 win.
East Bengal need to be credited for their display so far and even their coach, Trevor Morgan didn’t hold back while praising his players. Sitting pretty on top is always a good feeling, but with teams following in closely, you can go down the pecking order any time and the Englishman is wary of the fact. He is ecstatic with the start, but believes there is no scope of complacency to creep in. He believes other teams have done well too and it is important for the Red and Golds to keep up the pressure. He hailed his team’s hard training and a gritty performance in all the departments.
“We are on top, that’s a great thing, but we still have a long way to go. It is very close at the top now after Churchill registered a win. Dempo play tonight and a win for them could mean we are just one point clear. Even if we are not top, it’s important to keep the pressure up top,” claimed Morgan.
“I believe the other teams haven’t had much hiccups too. We have done well while defending and even the midfield and strikers have done their job. We have been training hard,” he added
Football is a team game and each and every member of the team deserves applause for a wonderful start and the remarkable record of giving away just one goal in eight games. Even the Englishman acknowledges the fact and highlights the importance of pre-season work and a little touch up before each game.
“The good defensive work we have done so far credits to mostly the pre-season work we put in. We tend to top that up a little before each game, say about half an hour. We have been able to maintain good defensive shape and that has been the key to an astute defensive record,” stated Morgan.
Many teams are relying on their foreign recruits to deliver for them in order to maintain a good run, but for the Kolkata giants, the story has been a little different. In addition to a good performance by their foreign recruits; the likes of Penn Orji, Edeh Chidi and the stalwart in defense, Uga Okpara, the Indian boys have also stepped up. Morgan in particular heaped praise on the midfield duo of Harmanjot Khabra and Ishfaq Ahmed, who have played their hearts out without much notice.
Another player who has been superb for the Reds and Golds, who was out of action, following an injury is their right-back, Thokcham Naoba Singh. He has been tight in defense and has been a constant help for his team to drive forward from the flanks. Morgan also spoke highly about the talented youngsters up his ranks; the likes of Lalrindika Ralte, Robin Singh. He also hailed the depth of his squad and firmly believes he has a lot of players in the squad that can come in at any time and make the difference.
“The Indian players have played really well, without a doubt. Khabra and Ishfaq have been very good in the midfield, putting in a hardworking shift in the middle of the park, but their work goes unnoticed. Noaba who was plagued by injury last time, around Christmas time, has made a good comeback since, and has been delightful in the last four-five games we have played,” said Morgan. We have a few good youngsters in our armoury as well. I believe we have a lot of players in the squad and depth wise, this is the strongest squad I have seen in my time,” opined Morgan.
The Englishman has brought his experience in the foray speaking how vital it is to keep the good run going and keeping the nerves in check. He also believes it is a matter of time, East Bengal dropped points and that is where the real test lies. Knowing how pressurizing it is in Kolkata, Morgan believes it is absolute necessary for the three time I-League winners to carry on in a similar fashion. He is also aware of the threat of the other top clubs in running and claims about five teams to be in the hunt for the I-League title.
“It is a question of sustaining what we are doing right now. It is a matter of time our defense opened up and this is the time our goalkeeper needs to stand tall. We need to keep working hard. It takes just one mistake to lose a game. It is quite possible that we lose two or may be three games in the trot.”
“Then, we have teams pushing in from the back. For me about five teams are in the reckoning; We, Churchill, Dempo, Mohun Bagan and probably Pune. Even the likes of Salgaocar are in a transition phase and they may start picking up points rather soon. They now have five games on the trot at home and that counts for something. What least we can do is, stay in touching distance of the top,” said Morgan.
With the rich experience of the man, he knows the unpredictability the game has in the offering and believes they could have hiccups at any time.
“It is rather easy to stand at the top than sustain it. This is what we have got to do and we will keep working hard,” Morgan signed off.
The Red and Golds now face three tricky fixtures – an away trip to Shillong Lajong, then travel back home to host their mighty rivals, Mohun Bagan and then play another city rival, Prayag United. As Morgan stated, Football is a game of great unpredictability and might drift anywhere in no time.
Though East Bengal have managed to get off to a dream start, maintaining the start would be a tougher task and how well they are able to do so remains to be seen. Also, with a hectic schedule of fixtures, there is a huge possibility of the bench of the team being tested and with Morgan having spoken highly off his bench, they fill face an acid test, once they are fielded in the coming games.
Written by Guest Author Anubhav Roda