The German spoke about the road ahead for the Blues.

Bengaluru FC picked up a 1-0 win over Maldives’ Club Eagles to seal a place in the AFC Cup group stages. Despite a shaky performance, a first half goal from debutant Jayesh Rane proved enough for the Blues to progress further. The club’s 3-4 month playing gap, therefore, almost seemed redundant, apart from a few final third and defensive hiccups in between. Following the game, Bengaluru FC head coach Marco Pezzaiuoli and winger Jayesh Rane spoke at the post-match press conference.

“We are happy to be in the group stage. It was a long journey to play this game for both teams. It was not easy as our last game was in February. We are missing match practice, but we were still the better team. Our opponents were dangerous in their corner-kicks,” said the Bengaluru FC boss Pezzaiuoli.

“Cleiton (Silva) had a chance early in the first half. We created big chances. I’m not really happy with the long balls played. We tried to keep more of the ball, but we were still the better team overall. Great compliments for the team, however, as it is not easy to play coming from the holidays. Now, we are there where we want to be; in the group stage,” he added.

On the team’s playing style

Pezzaiuoli also emphasized on the revamped squad and the reason for such a long ball playing style, particularly in the second half.

“We didn’t play long balls all the time; only sometimes when it was necessary. We have new players in the team, who have never played together. For example, our defensive line had three new players. We had two new players in our midfield and only our attack was the same as before,” added the German gaffer. “This means it’s time to know each other and their movements. I think we need to train and what’s important is games, games and games. It’s all about timing and this can be done when we play games. Only then will we improve.”

Reflection on scoreline

“We were dominant and had the ball for most of the time. The finishing could have been better. We did not get the ball inside. I think it should’ve been 5-2 in our favour based on the chances. We are not on top of our form 100%, but the season only starts on the 19th of November,” Pezzaiuoli said. “We have three months time to prepare. We’ve had a great time with new players and virtually a new team. Once again, compliments to the team,” he added praising the team for its efforts.

Qualifying for AFC Cup group stage

When asked if qualifying for the group stages was good for Bengaluru FC due to the ISL inching closer, the coach said, “It’s good that we are here and that we qualified. Here we get to play games. If we were in India, we would not have had games. It’s good for us to play games. We’ll have a longer pre-season and we need to be accurate as a team.

“We have to play whenever we get the space to do so, but we have to ensure that we don’t play too much and again start from zero. We have to stay sharp but for now, we are only focusing on the group stages.”

On the chance for redemption

Goalscorer and debutant Jayesh Rane also opened up about his feelings after the win. He expressed, “We are obviously happy. We did what the coach asked us to do. I think we didn’t give our 100%. We can do much more with the ball; like in the finishing and offensive zone. We’ll train more on that and will score more in our next games.”

He was also asked about what it means to win the match after the club missed out last season. He replied, “The club is happy. I am happy and everyone is happy. I hope we go much more forward in this tournament.”

The 52-year-old coach was also asked the same question. “It’s a top performance. We win and therefore we are in the group stage. We did everything well. After losing last time, it’s definitely a step forward. We think positive, not negative; right from the beginning. It’s a great opportunity for BFC,” he responded.

Thoughts on facing ATK Mohun Bagan next

The duo was also asked about facing fellow Indian Super League opponents ATK Mohun Bagan in their very next fixture. “They also come from holidays. They also have switches in their team. They’ve lost their defender to Croatia. I will prepare from tonight onwards. However, I think its a difficult game. But, all the teams we face next are generally very strong. The Bangladesh team (Bashundhara Kings) are very strong. They’ve won their games with great results and goals. They are the fittest team in the group,” he noted.

“Now, we are only focused on our next opponent ATK, who reached the ISL final last season. They’ve invested a lot on their improvement and we will try to beat them and be better than all our opponents,” the Italian added.

Rane on scoring on his debut

Finally, midfielder Rane was asked about his feelings and confidence boost after his brilliant goalscoring debut. “It’s always a good feeling for players to score goals. On my debut, it was a good feeling and I am looking forward to score more goals for the club,” he concluded.

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