East Bengal defeated Gokual Kerala FC by 2-1 to enter the semi-finals of the Durand Cup 2023 after a four-year gap. It is the first time since 2019 that Emami East Bengal managed to win three back-to-back games, and Carles Cuadrat, the head coach of Emami East Bengal Club, believes that the derby win started everything for them.
Talking about the game and qualifying for the semis after a long time, the Spanish mastermind said, "It's clear that we are starting a project, and it is important to get confidence. It's the base of the confidence to keep working hard. It is important to fight for the victories and enjoy that without supporters because, for them, it has been a long, long time without victories."
After drawing out against Bangladesh Army in their opening match, Emami East Bengal FC went past Mohun Bagan Super Giant, Punjab FC, and Gokulam Kerala to enter the semis. Coach Carles Cuadrat feels that wins against these strong teams have given the team some extra energy and confidence. He added that, winning the derby was the start of that.
"As we know, we are in the preseason. The energy is there. You see (that) we had to make five substitutions every match. Because the players are (still) getting fit. Our idea is to get the team physically well and try to get victories."
"Yes, emotions are very special in football, and it (winning the derby) was a very special moment. All the players really enjoyed the game. We saw some faces that we will never forget in our life. So I feel, after the draw against Bangladesh (Army), it was a very delicate moment. So, for us, it was like a must-win match, and we had three points. That's the reason we played the quarter-finals," Cuadrat added.
Emami East Bengal scored an early within the first 42 seconds of the game to get an early lead and stun the away team from Kerala. Australian defender Jordan Elsey headed the ball into the nets from a short corner played by Mahesh and lobbed by Borja towards Siverio. According to Carles, scoring that early is always tricky as the opponent gets the whole match to come back. That is why he feels as coaches, after those quick goals, they want their teams to increase the lead as quickly as possible.
On the other hand, Jordan was delighted to help his team that early lead. But, for him, it does not matter if he scores within the first minutes or later in the second half. As per him, helping the team is the most important thing. Although Jordan is a defender, he takes pride in scoring for his team and participating in the set pieces. During the practice sessions, the big and tall defender from down under practices enough to be at the right place whenever the team gets a set-piece during the game.
"Very happy to score my first goal for East Bengal. Happy for the win as well. Yeah, set pieces are very important. You have to put the ball in the right area, and we have tall boys who can head the ball," Jordan said in the post-match press conference.
After this win, Carles and his team will face the Highlanders, who defeated the Indian Army by 1-0 to qualify for the semis. Although they managed to win by a narrow margin, Carles believes that every game is different, and they come up with different plans for each game. Hence, as per him, it is all about maintaining the mentality of forgetting the past and focusing on how to get victories in the upcoming games.