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East Bengal's Manuel Diaz - The underdog tag doesn’t bother us, we are ready for Kolkata derby

6:29 PM MYT 26/11/2021
Manolo Diaz East Bengal ISL 8
The Spanish coach remains cautious ahead of facing a strong ATK Mohun Bagan side in the Kolkata derby...

East Bengal take on arch-rivals ATK Mohun Bagan in the big-ticket Kolkata derby in their second match of the ongoing Indian Super League (ISL) season on Saturday at the Tilak Maidan Stadium in Goa.

Facing their in-form rivals in just the second match of the season is a tough task for the Red and Golds but their head coach is all prepared for the titanic clash.

What did Manuel Diaz say?

"The Kolkata Derby is very important for us. We know the importance of this particular match, having witnessed a number of them during my stint in Spain and Mexico.

"It sure is only the second official match but we don’t look for excuses. We will try to do our best but we know ATK Mohun Bagan is a good team and is helmed by a good coach who has experience in the ISL. We must have a strong structure, the focus will be on minimizing mistakes and capitalizing on the weak points of ATK Mohun Bagan," said the East Bengal coach.

Compared to East Bengal, ATK Mohun Bagan come into this match on the back of a convincing 4-2 win over Kerala Blasters in their season opener and thus the Green and Maroons will start as the favourites in the derby.

But the East Bengal boss is not perturbed by the underdog tag as he suggested that they too are well prepared for the match.

"The underdog tag doesn’t bother us. We will play to our strengths. Though ATK Mohun Bagan had a very good last season and have a squad that have been playing together for many seasons, we are ready.

"We are working on different options and combinations because there are many matches that we’ll have to play in a short period of time so we’re keeping all options open," stated Diaz.

The former Real Madrid Castilla coach has set his derby plans keeping in mind the strengths of the entire ATK Mohun Bagan side, rather than focusing on individuals like Roy Krishna or Hugo Boumous.

"We are playing against ATK Mohun Bagan rather than only against (Roy) Krishna and Hugo (Boumous). Yes, they are good players who can score goals but they need the whole squad to help them. So we’re making plans to stop the whole team instead of only concentrating on Hugo and Krishna.

"For me, the whole squad of ATK Mohun Bagan is a threat. One or two players can’t win you a match, the team has to perform well collectively to win," opined the tactician.