East Bengal 'pressing' for a good show against Mohun Bagan
KOLKATA: It happened in the East bengal Four days ago, so fast and so fleeting that it arrived and disappeared almost in the blink of an eye.
With the team leading 2-0 and going into the final quarter of their CFL Premier Division 'A' match against Aryan FC, Kassim Aidara snatched a ball in the middle and sent it back to Marti Crespi. The Spanish defender turned it into a quick counter-offensive and in just three moves East bengal laid siege to the Aryan box in such a dramatic and dazzling manner that three of the red-and-gold’s four-man rearguard loped up to take positions near the rival box with four more lurking around the zone and ready to strike home.
East bengal could not score from that lightening counter-move — denied by the Aryan goalkeeper with one of his many stunning saves on that day — but the way Alejandro Menéndez He left the excavation and applauded his players, he said a lot.
Sunday would be a bigger field and a much bigger challenge for Alejandro's children when they enter the Salt Lake Stadium for the first derby of the season against Mohun Bagan at 3 pm. But many could discover in that movement a possible prototype on which the Spanish coach's approach will be based to overcome the challenge.
It is a pattern by which Alejandro is still revered in Spain, especially his contribution to youth development programs there. And having presided over the ups and downs of the Indians football in the past one year, he has moulded East bengal in a more distinct 'Spanish' garb.
Having worked with the likes of Jaime Santos and Crespi earlier and personally hand-picked striker Marcos Jimenez, Alejandro seems to be more at home to start his second year at East bengal . What he has added now to his style is a bit of ‘gegenpressing’ — the pressing football made famous by Jurgen Klopp during his time at Borussia Dortmund — where the players are being taught not only to control the ball, but the opposition as well.
If Alejandro would be staring at a rare 'hat-trick' against Mohun Bagan - following his victories in both legs of the last season's I-league - a win on Sunday could possibly hand his team a crucial edge on way to regaining the local league from the arch-rivals and defending champions.
Having played three matches each, East bengal are currently enjoying a two-point advantage over Mohun Bagan .
Alejandro, however, refused to buy the suggestion that the derby will have a decisive factor in the league.
“What happened in the past is history. It has no relevance in Sunday's game. The important thing is to enter the game with a positive mood and, hopefully, end with a victory. We can think about the table only after the game, ”he said.
While it will be a derby 'debut' for Mohun Bagan coach Kibu Vicuna, Alejandro has lived through a been-there-done-that story. No wonder that he is aware of what it brings to the fabric of the fight more than influencing the table.
"The players will be the protagonists on Sunday. It will be a big occasion for the players and fans of both teams. I believe in my players and I am sure Kibu does the same. We will try our best to win and make our fans happy,” the East bengal coach maintained.
With Bidyasagar Singh in a rich way, newcomer Ronaldo Oliviera shows promise and Brandon and Lalrindika Ralte joined well with the attackers behind, Alejandro had his staff ready to cross the obstacle.
All eyes will be on Alejandro to understand how he mixes the promise of homegrown with the power of the Spanish force to define the collective cause as the beginning of the season rumbles with the usual emotions and ornaments of the derby.