CFL 2019: Alejandro Menendez - Kolkata Derby came too early into the season

Alejandro Menendez East Bengal
The former Real Madrid Castilla coach was happy with the point but felt having two less foreigners as opposed to the I-League affected the game...

Alejandro Menendez's third Kolkata derby was not as successful as his previous ones. The East Bengal coach could not complete a hat-trick of triumphs against Mohun Bagan after his twin wins in the I-League last season.

The 2019 Calcutta Football League (CFL) derby ended goalless as the 53-year-old deemed the game was scheduled too early into the season - only on the fourth round itself.

"Maybe the fans expected a lot but the game arrived too early. It was a good game for us. In this game we could learn a lot. We checked our levels against a strong side and it helped us," he said.

Assessing the game, the former Celta Vigo manager commented, "I think both teams had chances to win the match. I think we had some more chances. In the first half they controlled the game more. They played with one more central midfielder but couldn't capitalise.

"We got more control of the ball in the second half and we had chances to score. At the end I made couple of substitutions to win the game. I am very happy with the performance of the team. I know they will improve. You have to be proud of the team's performance.

"We finished another game without conceding a goal. Against one of the strongest teams, we were intense and gave very less chances to the opponents."

Menendez sprang a surprise when he named the pair of Jaime Santos and Bidyasagar Singh on the bench. Instead, new recruit Marcos de la Espada and young Goan striker Ronaldo Oliveira started.

"If I play Jaime then you will say Marcos didn't play. From the beginning I started with two strikers. I wanted to win the game. I am happy with Marcos' performance. He got couple of chances. He gave effort, created a slot of space. He missed a clear chance to score. But he will be improving for sure," he stated.

"For me Kamalpreet (Singh) was the best player of the game. He had a very good game. I am just happy that we got a point in the end."

On asked what was the major point of difference that separated the derby in the I-League and the CFL, Menendez came up with an interesting observation. "I think in (the CFL) it is a game which has a lot of conditions. In the I-League, teams prepare to play with five foreigners.

"But, I think this match had similar intensity as the other two derbies I have been in. Only difference is that there were more foreigners," he concluded.

East Bengal are placed fourth on the CFL table, with seven points in four games, three points behind leaders Bhowanipore who have played the extra game.