Expecting leaders Chennai City FC to drop points going ahead, East Bengal coach Alejandro Menendez on Friday said their next opponents Mohun Bagan will be a difficult team to beat.
East Bengal find themselves eight points adrift the leaders Chennai although they do have a game in hand.
On Sunday, the Red and Gold brigade will be up against arch rivals Mohun Bagan hoping to clinch three points and also take an important stride towards winning their maiden I-League title.
“Mohun Bagan is a difficult match. We are focusing on the next match. All the teams are difficult who are fighting for the title. But we are focusing only on our next match. We have to get full points to fight for the title. Many teams are fighting for the title. Chennai have a tough fixture. Teams will drop points and therefore we have to focus on ourselves,” Menendez told reporters here.
Second-placed Real Kashmir host Chennai on February 28 in a crunch encounter. The high flying Southern side also have to face Neroca FC, Mohun Bagan and Churchill Brothers before the campaign ends.
Coming to Mohun Bagan, the green and maroon brigade have been a rejuvenated unit since the appointment of Khalid Jamil, who was incidentally East Bengal’s coach last season.
They have won their last two matches and with Haitian Sony Norde in good touch, should fancy their chances of putting it across East Bengal.
“Mohun Bagan is a big club. They have good players. The challenge is to stop them. In these kind of matches, the small details will make the difference. We have nothing special planned for Sony Norde.”
On being pressed to share his thoughts on Norde and whether he though the Haitian was a special talent, Menendez gave a lukewarm response.
“We will see that on Sunday.”
The coach stated that his team are very much ready for the derby and that Enrique Esqueda is fit for the weekend’s clash.
“I think we have played many matches and we are ready for the game. Enrique is fit for the game. We are trying to play our normal game. The players try to do their best in every match. It is not something different,” he said.
He also explained the reason why the club chose to undergo training at the Sports Authority of India’s (SAI) ground ahead of the derby.
“The main reason is that the players need to focus before the big match. Many fans come to have a look which can be a distraction. Also for the strategy and set-pieces, it is necessary to do closed door practice sessions.”
Asked about U-22 player Manoj Mohammed who is suspended for the derby, Menendez said that his squad have enough depth to cover for the full-back.
“We have a good squad who can fill Manoj’s boots. They have to give their all and do their job. We are not thinking about who cannot play but only those who can play on Sunday.”