Joseba Beitia still remembers the glory days of Real Sociedad. During the 2002-2003 La Liga season, Real Sociedad finished second, just two points behind champions Real Madrid.
“ I really enjoyed that season. Our striker Nihat Kahveci was in excellent form. Xabi Alonso was in that team too. At that age of 12, I watched them play and really enjoyed those days,” the Man of the Match (M0M) of Sunday’s CFL Derby told The Telegraph on Monday.
Darko Kovacevic and Nihat formed a great combination upfront. “They gave a very tough time to the opponent defenders. Their understanding was superb,” Beitia recalled.
Beitia later played for the Real Sociedad B team for three seasons.
Mohun Bagan are in eighth place after four matches with five points in the CFL. But the midfielder believes it is still possible for them to retain the title. “We will play seven more matches and if everything goes according to plan, we can still win the title,” a confident Beitia added.
Beitia had earlier played Basque Derby for Sociedad against Athletic Bilbao. But the atmosphere at the Salt Lake Stadium is something he will treasure for long. “I will remember this match for a long time… The atmosphere was electric,” Beitia said.
He feels winning the MoM award will motivate him to do better in the coming matches. “Awards always help you to do well in future. But without the teammates’ support this wouldn’t have been possible,” he said.
“Team game is our strength. It is not about any individual — whoever plays is ready to give his best for the team.”
Beitia revealed that perfection is the main mantra for coach Kibu Vicuna. “He is very good coach. He and his coaching team like perfection. But we have just started a new season, we have a long way to go and for that we need to improve a lot,” he said.
He also praised young Sk. Sahil, who had an outstanding game against East Bengal. “He was excellent on Sunday. He has a very bright future ahead, and I wish him all the best,” he said.
Beitia, whose father is a fisherman in the coastal city of his native San Sebastian, can’t hide his love for Calcutta. “I have been here for two months, and I really like this city. People like football like anything else… People like fish. I love fish too. So I find many things in common here,” he added.
Beitia was surprised to see supporters at the ground on Sunday with jumbo prawns. Later he came to know that Bagan and East Bengal supporters feast on prawns and hilsas, respectively, to celebrate their success in a Derby.
On Monday, Vicuna rested the players who started against East Bengal while the others trained at the club ground.
East Bengal players, who were in the starting XI went through a recovery session, while the others trained at the Salt Lake Stadium practice ground on Monday morning. East Bengal’s Spanish striker Juan Mera Gonzalez, who joined the team recently, trained full throttle.