Bengaluru FC will face their fiercest rivals Kerala Blasters on Sunday.

One of the fiercest rivalries in the Indian Super League resumes as Kerala Blasters host Bengaluru FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi. Kerala Blasters have made a strong case for playoff qualification, sitting in fifth place with 15 points. Bengaluru FC meanwhile has to stitch together a run of victories. They are ninth with 7 points. Simon Grayson and Prabir Das addressed the media ahead of the mouth-watering clash. 

Rivalry between Bengaluru FC and Kerala Blasters 

For a coach still new to the league, Simon Grayson understands the rivalry between the two sides. He spoke of the magnitude saying, “It’s one of the fixtures that everybody spoke about when I first arrived in India. The rivalry between the two clubs, the number of supporters that are going to be there. It added spice to the game. Obviously, Kerala is in a good run of form and we are looking to get back to winning ways.”

Opportunity’s to turn the season around 

Prabir Das has taken some time to get used to Bengaluru FC’s tactical setup. The full-back identifies the southern derby as a good chance to steer the season back on course. Prabir said, “As a player, all games pose a challenge. I’m focused on the game, it’s like a derby but the important thing is to bring back three points. Kerala is high on confidence, they’ve won four games on the trot, so it’s going to be a tough game.”

Improving Bengaluru’s inconsistent finishing 

Bengaluru FC has scored the joint lowest number of goals so far. Strikers have not been able to finish key opportunities in the matches, despite a good number of chances being created. Grayson pointed out,” We seem to be improving week in and week out. We suffered four defeats, but got back to winning against Goa. I think anyone will realise that we deserved, at the very least, a draw against ATK Mohun Bagan. One little bit of class changed the outlook of that game

And a lot of it comes down to confidence. You can see that the strikers who are in form, are the ones who are high on confidence. I’ve said it earlier in the week, once a goal goes in for a number of our strikers, I’m certain they’ll go on a run.”

Thoughts on new signing Pablo Perez 

Bengaluru FC has signed Pablo Perez, a free agent who has just recovered from injury, as a replacement for Prince Ibara. Grayson provided some insights on the new blue, “Pablo’s done a lot of physical work in terms of conditioning, but he hasn’t done a lot of football work in the last few months. I’ve got to decide whether he’ll be involved this weekend. I don’t want to rush him because I have to be careful.

Technically he looks like a very good player, and a really nice lad as well. I think he’s settled into the group very quickly. If it’s not this weekend, he’ll get a week’s training next week and get a run out against Jamshedpur. And that’s IF he isn’t involved on Sunday”

Recruitment process and profile of Pablo Perez

29-year-old Pablo Perez arrives with huge promise and potential on a deal till the end of the season. Grayson shed some light on his new midfielder,”  Pablo is a versatile attacking player, can play in a number of positions. He’s a very good technician, handles the ball well and is a good size as well. When I spoke to him, he was very excited to join, and that was a big part

Sometimes you speak to players, and they don’t give you the right feeling or vibe about their reasons. I’ve received recommendations for him from Victor Orta, the Technical Director at Leeds, who spoke very highly of him. The versatility made it an easy decision. In the short space of time that he’s been here, he seems to have fitted in really well. He’ll improve for sure, and our players are a good group that welcomes everyone in like a family.”

The plan for the second half of the league

Bengaluru FC has consistently made individual errors in defence, resulting in them dropping points on several occasions. Grayson outlined his plans to erase these errors,” We’re working on eradicating the individual errors. As a coach, when the players cross the line, it’s very difficult and frustrating when we lose because of a mistake. Very rarely have we lost matches because of individual brilliance from the opposition

We have gifted the opposition too many winning goals, last week was a good example. If we eradicate those fine margins, we can go on a run and I do believe we can do that.”

You must have seen against Goa and ATK Mohun Bagan, we’re a team that’s desperate to put things right, we have an edge about us. You can lose a game, and still, draw confidence from that.

Prabir Das’s target for the 2022-23 season 

Right-back Prabir Das is firm in his belief in a revival this season. He added,”: I know we’re not in a good position right now, but I am confident that if we get some wins on the board, the confidence will come back to the squad and we can make it to the top six.”

Grayson’s analysis of Kerala Blasters 

The BFC head coach dissected his high-flying opponents, “ I think they’re a team that, like a lot of teams, had a bad run and then went on a good run of winning matches. That builds confidence. They have a fantastic player in Luna, who’s a good technician. They’ll be pushing to sustain that.”

Having a series of home games in a row 

A difficult start to the season has resulted in consecutive home games eluding the Blues’ calendar till the second half of the season. Grayson was excited to return to the fortress soon after the trip to Kerala,”

We want to begin winning games, whether they’re home or away. If we bring a result back from Kerala, I know this stadium is going to be rocking. I’m looking forward to getting games on the trot back here.”

For more updates, follow Khel Now on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube and join our community on Telegram.