Calcutta: “The time is good now,” said a confident Armando Colaco, on the eve of East Bengal’s rescheduled I-League encounter against Pune FC to be played here on Saturday.
The early morning practice session at the club ground, on Friday, saw the players in a positive mood, despite the intense heat. Looking ahead to a hat-trick of wins — their 3-1 victory against Mohammedan Sporting in their last outing gave them their first back-to back win of this I-League — the East Bengal camp are now hoping for a finish closer to the top of the table, and even, maybe, the title.
The red-and-gold brigade have remained unbeaten in their last seven encounters, and have clawed their way up to third spot in the I-League table.
Just seven points adrift of table toppers Bengaluru FC, and with four matches still to go, the East Bengal coach does see hope. “I had always said we still have a chance. The boys are working very hard. I never wanted to write them off. But yes, there is no place for complacency. There is pressure, but we can deal with that.”
The coach knows he will be without the services of the injured James Moga and Mehtab Hussain. The duo remain unfit. “Mehtab has started practice, but he is not match fit. I don’t want to take a risk. Another injury may end his career. He is a very good player and we need to be careful,” said Colaco, who maintained that he was a “players’ coach”.
“Yes, it is difficult when you have to do without senior players like Mehtab and Moga. But the others have done well. I am very satisfied with the way things are going at the moment. I can only guide. It is the players who deliver and I respect that,” he said.
The coach also added that he would not want to change the line-up that won against Mohammedan Sporting on last Saturday. Naturally, all eyes will be on Edeh Chidi, Ryuiji Sueoka, Lalrindika Ralte and Harmanjyot Singh Khabra.