Kolkata (West Bengal) [India], February 8 (ANI): NorthEast United FC head coach Vincenzo Annese wants his side to be prepared for a confident and improved East Bengal FC as they take on the Kolkata-based side in Matchweek 19 of the Indian Super League (ISL) 2022-23 at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata on Wednesday.
With just three games remaining in the league, the Highlanders are placed at the bottom of the table with four points and will hope to finish the season in a strong way. Reflecting on their 2-0 loss to Jamshedpur FC in the previous game, Annese wants his side to learn from their mistakes and rectify it in their upcoming game.
"Our last game especially in the first half was not so good, not with much intensity in the way of our pressing and in the way of our defending. But, we came back strong in the second half, we created many chances, many opportunities to at least draw the game. Maybe we deserved to at least draw the game. I think it is very painful that we didn't score at least one goal," Annese said in the pre-match press conference.
Their opponents, East Bengal FC, turned the tide in the last game, having registered their first home clean sheet in a 1-0 victory against Kerala Blasters FC. With new signing Jake Jervis fitting well under Constantine's system and combining with Cleiton Silva upfront, the side are a big hurdle in NorthEast United FC's pursuit of three points. The Italian believes his side is capable of pulling off an upset and urged his players to keep up their hopes.
"East Bengal FC defeated Kerala Blasters FC at home in their last game and they will be in full form and it will be difficult as each game in the ISL is. They have a new striker, they have changed the form of their team, and we need to be aware of the quality of their new foreign player. He is not easy, he is one of the top strikers and is clinical in the last end of the field," he said.
"We need to have confidence in ourselves, in our players because we need to have this confidence even to play away from home. I know it's not easy after continuous losses but I believe in the guys. We need to keep our spirits high and put in our maximum efforts. If we want, we can create a lot of chances, we can make (it) a difficult game for East Bengal FC, we can come up with a really good result," he added.
The 38-year-old pointed out how the Red and Gold Brigade were able to get past Kerala Blasters FC despite being stacked against the odds and warned his side to be wary of their attacking threat that dismantled the Tuskers.
"I think Kerala Blasters FC were too soft against East Bengal FC. Honestly, even Ivan (Vukomanovic) the head coach commented in the post game about their lack of intensity in the way they approached the game. I noted that East Bengal FC, with their new striker, are more spirited to fight in the attack because he's going to exploit the attacking space behind the defender. So, the team will look more concrete in the attacking phase," he commented.
With new signing Hira Mondal missing out on gametime due to an injury, the head coach provided an update on his return along with an additional update on the injury list.
"I hope Hira Mondal will come back for this game, at least for a short period of time, but I don't think he will have 90 minutes of play. We have lost Gaurav Bora for two months and he'll be out for the rest of the season," he concluded. (ANI)