Coaches can be excused for having a tough first day to their tenure. Either you’re scrutinized heavily by the press or the fans don’t take a liking to you. However none of the premises applied to Marcos Falopa’s first day in the big seat at I-League club East Bengal, as his butterflies evaporated into sheer astonishment at the reception he received from the 500 strong fan squad of the club that had come to greet him on his first day.
“This passion of the fans reminds me of Brazil. I never thought I would see something like this on the first day,” Falopa said after the first day’s practice.
“This makes me happy as well as nervous. Happy because I know the fans here are with me and nervous because expectations are really high. I cannot let these people down. After all these are the people who will fill the turnstiles”, explained a visibly bowled over Falopa, speaking to The Telegraph.
Expressing how happy he felt at the fans reception, the Brazilian chirped “I felt like being in Brazil,” to The Times of India.
The opening practice session lasted for an hour with the coach’s son-and new goalkeeping and conditioning coach Americo taking part in assessing the players.
The opening drills included a fifteen minute session, wherein players swapped roles in groups of two. This was followed by running, push-ups and a few other exercises.
Club Captain Mehtab Hussain, Ryuji Sueoka, Joaquim Abranches, Raju Gaikwad, Lalrindika Ralte, just to name a few of the 25 players, who were present.
“This bunch have been playing together for a long time. And on the very first day I found that they are willing to learn. It’s very important in football… the willingness to learn… to evolve every day. They are in good shape. As the season wears on, the motor also will start running in full throttle,” chimmed a happy coach, who was impressed with what he had seen.
The coach insisted that there would be no drastic change in the style of play, while admitting concurrently that it would be sometime before his players understood his idea of football.
“It will not happen overnight. They have worked under a coach (Trevor James Morgan) for three seasons. Now with me at the helm they will take time to adapt to the new system. But I promise that very soon you will get glimpses of Brazilian style in East Bengal’s football.”
“We have a long road ahead of us. A lot of work needs to be done. Some players are fit, but others are not. I have watched and analyzed videos of their performance in the past and I’ll proceed accordingly,” enunciated Falopa, whose club begin their residential camp in Kalyani, from Monday.
The Nigerian duo of Uga Okpara and Edeh Chidi, along with South Sudanese striker James Moga are hopeful of linking up with the team too.
On the subject of Ryuji Sueoka, Falopa stressed that the Japanese international was still making a comeback from injury. “He is making a comeback from the injury he sustained during the latter part of last season. We have to give him time to settle down. He is a great player and we cannot hurry into things.”
Meanwhile, East Bengal have also offered coaching positions post-retirement to the veteran trio of captain Mehtab, veteran playmaker Alvito D’Cunha and left-back Saumik Dey. They have spent seven, eleven and eigh seasons at the club respectively. “We want them to end their career at East Bengal. After retirement, we may offer them coach’s job for our academies and age-group teams,” explained a club official.