The I-League 2017 enters the business round and the season spices up with the Kolkata Derby between Mohun Bagan and East Bengal on display in Siliguri on Sunday.
The Mariners head coach Sanjoy Sen remained optimistic to grab all three points and take a further edge in the title race.
"We are confident. We started dropping points after drawing against East Bengal in the last derby. We need to maintain consistency, the one part we have been lacking in throughout the season. We are not in a better position, we are trying to go to a better position by winning the derby," the I-League winning coach stated.
"I don't know if East Bengal are underdogs. I just know how important the game is for us. It's not my headache what they term the game for them for themselves. If we win, we will be in a much better position, But if we lose we won't slide out of the title race."
He further added while recalling their last encounter which ended in a goalless draw, "I don't think so we were tensed, in retrospection, we dominated but it didn't pay because we couldn't win. So, this game becomes important for us."
However, after the derby, both Mohun Bagan and East Bengal would have four and three games remaining in the league. Sen also spoke considering the fight they have to put up during the last phase.
"Doesn't matter what teams they have left to play. I told that the I-League will be the most toughest. The champions-elect, what the people focused as have been shoved out of the title race. I think no team is weak, be it Minerva, Chennai or Lajong. They have gone from strength to strength and sorted their teams out as the league has progressed"
"All the remaining games we have, all are important and tough for us. We have to show more character in playing these games."
The former United SC coach downplayed any suggestions that Bagan go into the game with the upper hand as they are in good playing nick with games against Bengaluru and Abahani Limited Dhaka the last week.
He commented, "People think we are ahead because we have played two games in the last week. But you cannot say all this especially in EB vs MB when other things revolve around the game more. No advantage because they had a gap. They planned according to their fixtures list. We have too."
The 56-year-old praised the opposition and reminded his charges what needed to be done in order to restrict them in attack. "They are strong. Last time I remember Wedson got too much space and we will try to correct that. We will prepare after we get the team list. We still have a lot of time to go."
Sen did not read too much into the fact that Mohun Bagan have only scored three goals in six games away from Kolkata. In fact, he wanted to change things around and reverse their away form.
"If we could have scored more in the away games, we would have been top of the league and gotten more than 26 points. But the league is also a different aspect. We also are unbeaten at home and people have played that up. We need to answer through the away games we play after this. We need to rectify the records."
"I know that we had to play a home game in Siliguri, so we were mentally prepared for the fact that East Bengal will have more supporters in the stands," he concluded.