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I-League: Odafa may not be at his best – East Bengal coach Armando Colaco

Amoy Ghoshal
Modified 22 Nov 2013, 21:58 IST

derby pic

Armando Colaco might be the most successful coach in I-League history with five titles but in his own admission, the 60-year-old has never experienced anything like the buildup to the Big Kolkata derby despite having a coaching career of almost two decades now.

Sunday’s clash against Mohun Bagan will be his first game as East Bengal coach and the former Dempo tactician talked about the need of feeling relaxed ahead of such a big game.

“To be honest there wasn’t any pressure in Goa. There are huge expectations here but I am not feeling any pressure. If the coach feels pressure then what will happen to the players? So I am trying to keep a very relaxed atmosphere and have told the boys to enjoy their football. Whatever the result, we will take it in our stride,” he told in the joint-press conference held at the Mohun Bagan ground on Friday in a bid to request fans to maintain harmony in Sunday’s match.

On paper, East Bengal are widely considered to be the favourites for this season’s I-League title but Armando doesn’t believe that Mohun Bagan are underdogs in this contest.

“For me there are no winners or favourites before the match. I don’t underestimate anyone including Mohun Bagan. We are expecting a tough match,” he stated.

But Armando might have committed a blunder by suggesting that Mohun Bagan skipper Odafa Okolie may not be firing on all cylinders in this match as he is only returning from injury.

“Th good thing for us is that Odafa is just coming back from injury so maybe he won’t be at his best,” Armando said to the Nigerian, who was present at the press conference, before trying to retract, “don’t take it otherwise Odafa.”

It might be his derby debut but Armando isn’t going to shy away from the mind games and on Sunday we will come to know whether Odafa got any extra motivation from those words.

Armando further requested the fans to avoid any ugly scenes and played down suggestions that his inexperience in this rivalry could give Mohun Bagan an advantage.

“This is the first time I will be experiencing this derby but I don’t think that gives anyone any edge. I have only had a couple of days with the players but they have responded very well and are ready to put up a good show. I hope it’s a fair match and played in the right spirit. No matter what happens, I hope the fans will understand and not create any trouble,” he concluded.

Published 22 Nov 2013, 21:58 IST
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