East Bengal are the new entrants in the Indian Super League (ISL) this season and a delay in completing formalities meant the team did not much time to prepare for the season.
Under Liverpool great Robbie Fowler, the Red and Golds had little over three weeks time to prepare and they are set to face their arch-rivals ATK Mohun Bagan in the opening match.
But East Bengal coach Robbie Fowler believes that the team is ready and are raring to play their first match of the season which is ISL's first Kolkata derby.
“We prepared properly. We know it's been a really short time in preparation but we accept that and the players are ready so we go into this game as good as we can be. There are a few niggles but that is expected. That will be the case throughout the league. Even though we have been together for a short period it feels like forever (we have been) waiting for the game and thankfully the game is now upon us.
“Ideally, we all would have loved a lot more time but we have accepted that and we have moved on. We know we are two or three weeks behind everyone else in terms of preparation but we can only do we can do. We have prepared the team well and we will go out and give our best and hopefully get a good result,” said Fowler ahead of the all-important clash.
The British coach pointed out the pros and cons of playing a derby in their opening match of the season and suggested the team believes in their abilities.
“The advantage is we go into the game, we probably know a bit more about ATK Mohun Bagan than they do about us. We are prepared in that way. For the disadvantage, we have never played before so we may go into the game a bit rusty.
“ATK Mohun Bagan have played a game so they probably know a bit about themselves. But it is never about the opposition, it is about what we can do. We have prepared properly, we have the belief in ourselves and now we have to go out there and give our best shot.”
Fowler is familiar with a few of the foreign players in the ATK Mohun Bagan team. While midfielder Brand Inman played under the former Liverpool forward at Brisbane Roar last season and he saw players like Roy Krishna and David Williams play in the same league during his time as a coach in Australia.
The former Liverpool forward spoke highly about the opposition but said that his team will only focus on themselves,
“ATK Mohun Bagan are a team whose 80 per cent or 90 per cent of the players won the league last year so we know they are a good side and how organised they are. The manager has prepared them and they are well drilled. But it is not about them or any of their players.
“We know they have lots of good players. I had Brad Inman in Australia last year and I have played with David Williams, Roy Krishna came on trials when I was at a club in Australia. I know what type of players they are and they are dangerous players but we have to focus on us.”
The East Bengal manager considers his team as underdogs in front of the Mariners as he believes that retaining the core of the team from last season will be an advantage for Antonio Habas’ side.
“ATK Mohun Bagan are a new entity but they are a team who have been together for a good few years and they are well organised, champions last year. We are a new team and we are massive underdogs but sometimes underdogs win. We will try to give confidence to the players as much as we can. Underdogs sometimes do cause upsets.”