SC East Bengal head coach and Liverpool legend Robbie Fowler was bitterly disappointed with his team 3-2 loss to Hyderabad FC in the Indian Super League (ISL) 2020-21 at the Tilak Maidan in Vasco, Goa on Tuesday. Jacques Maghoma scored the team's first two goals of the season but it was not enough as Aridane Santana scored a brace and Halicharan Narzary found the back of the net once to help Hyderabad come from behind and take the victory.
This was East Bengal's fourth loss of the season and they remain rooted at the bottom of the points table with just one point from five games. Maghoma gave them the lead in the first half and then Debjit Majumder saved a penalty to keep them 1-0 up at half time. However, Hyderabad FC came back in the second half with renewed vigour and scored thrice in 12 minutes to take a two-goal lead. Maghoma pulled one back in the 81st minute but it was not enough as the Kolkata team succumbed to another loss.
Fowler was at loss of words after the game and said his players just don't perform during the games in the same manner as they do in training.
"I don't know where to start. We say the same thing again and again, I think our players need to concentrate for the whole 90 minutes. We are trying but we are just not good enough. We were late to the party and some of our players have come from I-League and are struggling in the ISL with the standard improving year after year. We train well but when we come in match situations, the players don't perform as well. I really don't know what more to do. The recruitment has not been kind to us," Fowler said to the broadcasting team.
Fowler felt despite East Bengal going into the break with a one-goal lead, they weren't good enough in the first 45 minutes as well. "I actually don't think we were that good in the first half as well, we were lucky. We needed to concentrate, knew what we had to do. But the players switched off and then our level dropped."
He then reiterated that some of his players were just not upto the ISL standard. "It is what it is. We have got the squad. We have mixed and matched everyone and I talk to all the players. I pick the team from what I see in training but the players in that shirt aren't the same. Some of the players' performance is just not ISL standard," he remarked.
Goalscorer Maghoma said as foreigners and experienced players, they try to keep their teammates motivated. Maghoma conceded that scoring goals would not matter unless they stop conceding goals.
"We are just keeping them believing and mentally, keeping them strong in these tough situations. There are things going to be said about them and the team but we gotta stay together. We got two goals and we need to stop conceding goals. In one way, there were positive and the other way, we conceded on counter attacks mainly because we had the ball and gave away cheaply. Through these times, we need to be mentally strong that the things we are doing is going to work for us," he said to the experts on the broadcasting team.