East Bengal’s poor run of form continued in the I-League as the Red and Gold brigade succumbed to yet another home defeat, this time to defending champions Minerva Punjab.
Coach Alejandro Menendez stated that he was pleased with the performance of his players in the first half. He was also rued the fact that Jobby Justin was wrongly flagged offside when the striker had a brilliant opportunity to score.
"I think that we played well in the first half. We took out many of their men. We created many chances. In the second half, they pushed ahead and we missed the ball and the game got open. After the match was open, we had a big opportunity for Jobby that was offside and they got momentum after that. One more time in 0-0, we got a bad decision from the referee and they scored from the only one good chance they got,” said Menendez.
The Kolkata giants are eighth on the I-League table with six points from five matches. Menendez acknowledged that there are other teams who are better placed to win the title but once again reiterated his disappointment with the refereeing decisions.
“We have only played five matches in the league. After winning two matches, we've now lost three matches. There are possibilities for other teams to win the league. We have to correct our mistakes. We don't have good luck with the referees. After five matches, we are alive. Now we have four matches this month.
“The only way to get better is to work on it. We're working every day to improve. In all of the matches, we've played better at times than the opponent. We have to continue working on improving ourselves. After three losses, it's the same as winning two matches. We need to keep calm and continue working. The real pressure comes when you don't have money to buy food for your family,” he responded defiantly when questioned if he finds himself under pressure.
Menendez also explained his decision to throw in Samad Ali Mallick to replace Yami Longvah in the second half.
“With Samad’s change, we tried attacking from the right wing. If you see after he went inside in the first 10 minutes, he played in two dangerous crosses. Samad was very direct and we put him with because of the characteristics he has got.
"I've said many times that we're building the team. We almost had an average of two goals per match. If we continue to make personal mistakes coupled with refereeing mistakes, it’s difficult to improve. We have some positions to improve upon. Our form at home is another thing we need to improve.”
East Bengal will next play against Gokulam Kerala on December 8th before taking on Mohun Bagan on the 16th.