East Bengal foreign players’ commitment nowhere close to ours: Douglas Silva after derby loss

Former East Bengal star Douglas Da Silva expressed his disappointment while speaking to the Indian Express about the reinvented 'Boro Match'.

Miffed at the level of commitment and motivation of his former team East Bengal, which succumbed to the big match pressure in the Kolkata derby against ATK Mohun Bagan on Friday, former star Douglas Da Silva expressed his disappointment while speaking to the Indian Express on the reinvented ‘Boro Match’.

The Brazilian magician is a part of the elite club to have graced Indian football. His name is uttered in the same breath along with his other contemporary stars like Odafa Okolie, Jose Ramirez Barreto, Suley Musah, Sammy Omollo, Mike Okoro.

With two back-to-back league titles and the glorious ASEAN Cup, he managed to carve out the legendary status in the red and gold family. After the much awaited return leg derby in the Indian Super League, the Brazilian, known for his tough tackling, aerial presence and physical dominance, shared his thoughts on the Derby, in which he remains unbeaten. (Read in Bengali)

What were your expectations before the ISL return leg derby? Did the match live up to your expectations?

The match was all about the foreigners of both team. I wanted to see foreigners and their level of efforts and commitment to the match, how they perform on such big occasion. East Bengal foreigners disappointed me to a large extent. Their commitment can not even come close to the level of us. The fact that the situation is not in favour for East Bengal right now is understandable, but the problem is Indian players always rely heavily on foreigners. They need to realize that every match is not like other league matches or even final of the tournament. On the other hand, ATK Mohun Bagan foreigners made the match memorable to the fans by showing their integrity and sheer determination.

I always say Derby match is 50-50 for both the team when it comes to wining opportunities. But the way Mohun Bagan played with confidence, they were always ahead of East Bengal. What makes the difference in a match like this is the determinations, the efforts of the players, the iron will. Even if you are top of the table, this match is something different. That’s why the outside preparation of this match remains so important.

What actually went wrong for East Bengal?

Both the teams played with same system with three defenders.The league is coming to the business end. But till now East Bengal has not been able to strike the right combination for the team. And there is Antonio Habas, who has been playing with this formulae for the last couple of years. Robbie Fowler is still trying to find a suitable formation for the team. It has been the biggest problem for East Bengal. That’s why ATK Mohun Bagan got more advantage in derby.

Did East Bengal’s high line defense strategy cost them the match?

I can not understand the high line defense strategy of East Bengal. If you have three defenders who are not so fast on the pitch against a quality opposition, why would they apply high line defense? Mohun Bagan made full advantage with East Bengal’s high line defense. ATK Mohun Bagan have super fast footballers in the name of Roy Krishna, David Williams and Mercelinho Pereira from behind. That was a strategic blunder for East Bengal. When your opponent has faster players, one team’s defense should not go above second line. That is where ATK Mohun Bagan got more free space and Krishna fully utilised it.

Did Antonio Lopez Habas master the art of long ball strategy in derby?

Antonio Lopez Habas used long ball strategy as East Bengal were always concentrating, marking on the ball instead of the players and defenders were high on pitch. When East Bengal were looking to the strikers, there needed to be someone who would stop the supply from behind. I have been watching since the beginning of the season. East Bengal defenders are trying to mark the ball. It’s not a professional approach. Defenders should not look to the ball but the man. When you follow the ball even for a second, you can lose the match instantly. Antonio Habas, as a master tactician knew it well. So he planned accordingly and he was always trying to put the ball behind East Bengal defense line.

Your take on Roy Krishna-David Williams partnership ?

Roy Krishna and David Williams are playing together for a long time. They have been playing in India for back to back seasons. They have superb understandings between them. Just by looking at each other’s eyes they can realize what the other wants. They have this level of mutual understanding. Roy Krishna with his speed and Williams with his technicality and intelligence compliment each other. Added to this Mohun Bagan has got the services of Marcelinho Pereira who can control the game by holding and feeding the ball to Krishna-Williams.

Is Antonio Lopez Habas really unstoppable?

No team in the world is unstoppable. He knows his strategy well and has become a master of it. He has quality players in his kitty who understand what coach wants from them. It seems the opposition coaches have not been able to decode his strategy so far. That’s why he is looking unstoppable.

Bright Enobakhare had a poor outing on Friday. Why he did look ordinary on a such a big match?

Bright Enkhobare has quality no doubt but he needs to be played with a right combination. I am hardly certain that they really understand the importance and value of the match. They need to be fully aware of such big match so that they can come off with extra motivation which we used to play with during our days. Their casual approach hurt me.

East Bengal coach Robbie Fowler was not on the bench due to suspension. Was it a factor for East Bengal’s poor performance?

It hardly matters if the coach is on the bench or not. Because the match is strategized during practice. Robbie Fowler would not be able to save the match even if he were on the bench. They looked like they were playing the last match of the league. They should know that they were playing one of the biggest football derbies around the world.

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