After beating NEROCA FC in Imphal in their I-League 2018/19 opener, East Bengal take on Shillong Lajong away from home in their second match on Thursday.
Ahead of the match, East Bengal coach Alejandro Menedez said, “We know that it is a difficult match for us and we have to give our best to win tomorrow’s (Thursday) match. The win against NEROCA gave us good confidence for this match. Our mentality is to try and win the match. After 90 minutes only we can see what happens. For now, we are confident that we can win.”
The Spaniard clarified his statement from his last press conference about East Bengal playing to only 40% of their capability against NEROCA FC. He said, “The team didn’t play 40% of their abilities. In the last press conference, I said that the team has only reached 40% of what I expect them to be on the field. Our team gave their 100% against NEROCA FC.”
On being asked if Menendez will field an unchanged starting XI against Lajong, he said, “I cannot give you the lineup. The players still don’t know who will play. The most important thing is that all the players in the squad are good enough to start.”
The Red and Golds’ coach mentioned that all the players who have travelled to Shillong are fit to play the next match.
The former Real Madrid Castilla coach refused to use Shillong’s artificial turf as an excuse. He said, “The artificial turf of Shillong is the same for all players and all teams so we can’t use that as an excuse. We have to adapt to this ground and play well.”
On facing giants East Bengal at home, Lajong coach Alison Kharsyntiew said, “East Bengal is always a tough opponent and this year especially they have very good players. Both defence and attack are very strong. To play against East Bengal you have to be mentally tough. Tomorrow (Thursday) we have to put a lot of effort and quality to beat them.”
Kharsyntiew agreed that Lajong have a young and inexperienced side but he believes if the team plays together they can win against the Kolkata club. “Yes we have an inexperienced side but if we play together and follow a philosophy I think we can beat East Bengal,” said the Lajong coach.