Kolkata giants East Bengal take on defending champions Aizawl FC in their I-League season opener on Tuesday at the Salt Lake stadium in Kolkata. Aizawl's I-League winning manager Khalid Jamil joined the Red and Golds this season as their manager and will be up against his former side in his very first match of the season.
On the eve of their match, coach Khalid opened up about the pressure of managing a club like East Bengal that has millions of fans across the world. Addressing the media, the coach said, "It is a big challenge. We need a positive start. We are going to play with a good team. It won't be an easy match. I got accustomed to East Bengal. It's been a long time since I have left Aizawl. Even playing in the ground will be a challenge. I am nervous under pressure but I want to perform."
He was asked about his tactics and whether he will opt for an attacking approach in the tournament, to which Jamil replied, "We cant attack all the time. We have to create chances and work hard to go forward."
East Bengal meet arch-rivals Mohun Bagan in their second match of the I-League on December 2. With less than a week to go before the Kolkata derby, the East Bengal head coach was asked about his preparations for the big match to which he said, "Not thinking about derby. We will see later. Not thinking about Mohun Bagan."
Aizawl coach Paulo Meneses too addressed the media ahead of their title-defence. On how he has prepared before facing giants East Bengal, the coach said, "We have information to prepare. We know how they play. Their best players. It's about team.It is a very good challenge. All teams want to be the champion. We are ready to compete. We have to think about AFC competitions too. We have to prepare for the whole season."
Aizawl FC play their home matches at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium in Aizawl where the playing turf is made of artificial grass. They have to play their match against East Bengal in Salt Lake's natural turf. When asked if his team will face problems due to the turf, the Portuguese coach replied, "Not an excuse for the change in the turf. Don't have one player that have never played in natural grass. It's a motivation. We did not have time to change practice schedule."