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"Want to be first to put East Bengal in top six": Stephen Constantine

Before their match against Kerala Blasters, East Bengal head coach Stephen Constantine spoke to the media about a variety of subjects.

Want to be first to put East Bengal in top six: Stephen Constantine

Stephen Constantine


Aswathy Santhosh

Published: 2 Feb 2023 10:52 AM GMT

East Bengal had a tough time during the January window as they were hit with an unexpected transfer ban and it prevented them from registering their new foreign striker Jake Jervis. Stephen Constantine is delighted to finally have him available against Kerala Blasters.

"Jake was one of those players that we wanted to get in, we needed help up front. It's taken a while, because of the embargo. I'm pleased that he's going to be playing in the game tomorrow."

The season opener in Kochi was a night to forget for the Red and Gold brigade. Stephen was asked if this is going to be a revenge game. "I wouldn't call it revenge. We have to play them, we are a different team from the first game and so are they. It was 70 minutes nil-nil I don't know how we lost that game, but we did. I think it'll be a difficult game."

East Bengal currently sits on 9th spot and things could have been a lot better if the embargo was not there. "Jake could have been available to play with Odisha FC. But because of the embargo it was not possible and this is not my fault. What I can do is continue to work with the players that we have. If I could have gone and banged my head on the table and lift the embargo, I would have done it".

Stephen Constantine believes that he is the one who wants this team to succeed more than anyone else. "There is nobody in this state that wants East Bengal to be successful more than me. Why? If I don't do a good job here, I'm not going to get another job. My name is not Zico, I am Stephen Constantine. People ask why you came here. Because I want to be the guy to put East Bengal in the top six. I want to be the first guy. So coming here and turning that around will be big massive for me."

He also added that East Bengal needs to support the managers at least for a couple of years. "We have had 10 managers in 4 years here. I think it's time to believe a guy and give him a couple of years. And then if I don't deliver, you can kick me out."

Constantine is not a fan of the current playoff system. "I hope that we don't have this playoff system. I would prefer 12 teams, home and away 22 games, top six home in a way that gives us the 28 games that AFC requires, that will give us 32 games and those top six will play for AFC cup and AFC Champions League.

The bottom six, if we are going to relegate one or two teams, then they are fighting for relegation and the I-league teams will come up that will provide super super competitiveness, it will have the top six fighting so there'll be good quality TV games. They will be must watch games because when you're fighting for your life, I can tell you I've been in that situation."

He concluded with reassuring that East Bengal have started preparing for next season from December itself and they will compete for Super cup with extra motivation. "Preparation for next season for me started Christmas. I was going through the list. Who's available, Who can I get to play for me. Then you have to go and think budgets and many other factors. We will go for the Super Cup motivated for sure".

However, the gap between the two competitions irks the Englishman. "After ISL, there is a 40 day break before Super Cup. That's killing us. These things need to be sorted out. If you are going to be a quality top league in Asia, these things cannot happen. The teams that are not in the top 6 should sit and wait?."

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