The experienced coach acknowledged that the Red and Gold’s midfield never clicked against Rangdajied…
Defending champions East Bengal started their Federation Cup campaign with a 1-1 draw against an unfancied Rangdajied United in their group B opening clash.
Coach Armando Colaco highlighted that his side had played their seventh game in 18 days and the fixture overload has begun to take its toll.
“The boys are putting their best effort and we shouldn't have played the Calcutta League. It's not a joke to play so many games. The boys are tired. You can see a crack in their performance which has not been up to the mark, but nevertheless we didn't lose. We got a point. We had a penalty to score, couldn't score. There are another two games to go. Let's see what happens,” said Colaco.
“We played six games in Calcutta in 12 days. Two days rest and then we played again. Another two days rest and we'll be playing again. You can't blame anybody. We have to blame our own self,” he added.
Unlike Armando Colaco’s trademark style of playing the ball along the ground, East Bengal were seen resorting to long ball being punted upfront for Chidi Edeh and James Moga.
“This is exactly what happens. [James] Moga wants every ball upfront and that is the reason why everybody plays a long ball. The pace of the surface is quite fast and the lights also (not up to the mark) but I will not complain. When you start on the pitch for the first time, all these obstacles do come.”
The midfield of Joaquim Abranches, Ryuji Sueoka, Harmanjot Khabra and Lalrindika Ralte never clicked and as a result, Subodh Kumar and Cavin Lobo were brought on.
“Fully agree with you on the midfield. Everybody has got their habits. Everybody wants to play four (four defenders and) and one defensive midfielder. In my opinion, that defensive midfielder is not there. Even if the defensive midfielder plays, the wingbacks should come up. I would not comment on anything because the boys are putting their best foot forward.”
Cavin Lobo’s introduction in the second half seemed to have spurred the Kolkata outfit as he linked well with the strikers.
“You see, [Cavin] Lobo is a very skillful player. There is not player in India at the moment who is as skillful as him, but unfortunately there is a little problem because of his asthma attack. You have to keep either in the first half or the second half. When Lobo comes in you can see him keeping the ball and playing.
“Khabra is a defensive midfielder and [Ryuji] Sueoka also wants to run upfront. Nobody is there to play square passes. But then, no complains, we will organise ourselves. The other team (Rangdajied United) played much better, they played well. This is life. It's okay.”
East Bengal next face Sporting Clube de Goa before lining up against I-League’s table toppers Bengaluru FC against whom the Kolkata outfit has had success twice. On being asked of the club’s chances to qualify for the semi-finals, Colaco said, “Let me come to the bridge and then I'll cross it. You see, nothing is impossible in the game of football. They (Bengaluru FC) were leading 4-0, finally the score is 5-3 [against Sporting clube de Goa].
“We're trying our best. This mouth talk is easy. The legs are playing. I have a pen and I can write what I want. These legs are difficult. We never got a chance to play on this ground before. So it is difficult to play the first game. No excuses. I don't give any excuses.”
Chidi Edeh’s missed penalty in the first half came to hurt East Bengal eventually and Colaco joked, “Did Chidi [Edeh] shoot the ball out purposely? You talk about the man walking, Johnnie Walker, who's that - Roberto Baggio - he shot and started walking. Next time I'll go and shoot the penalty!”