The Bengaluru FC tactician shed light on the possibility of new arrivals at the club.

After enduring a torrid run of four straight defeats, Bengaluru FC finally shrugged the monkey off their backs with a fine display in Goa. Javi Hernandez’s brace and Gurpreet’s heroics powered Bengaluru to a 2-0 victory against the Gaurs, handing them their first points since their second game of the season. Simon Grayson was joined by Javi Hernandez for the pre-match press conference preceding a titanic clash at home against ATK Mohun Bagan.

Here’s what they had to say.

Reaction after Mumbai

Following a 4-0 thrashing versus Mumbai City, Simon Grayson and his players were looking for an immediate reaction in Goa. Coach Grayson said, “I was delighted with the reaction. There seemed to be an edge to the players in training and they seemed to be focused on what they were doing. When you suffer a defeat like you did in Mumbai, you have to make sure there’s a reaction, and there was.

He continued, “All week, there was a purpose and concentration about the players and ultimately, they took that into the game. We worked extremely hard, the game plan was carried out very well. Key players took chances, and other players made blocks or vital saves, especially Gurpreet in the first few minutes.

“The confidence has been boosted by that result against a strong Goa team, but we have to go back to working hard and keeping the concentration levels high. This weekend is a much tougher test against ATK Mohun Bagan.”

Dressing room atmosphere after breaking the run of losses

The win in Goa ended BFC’s longest-ever run without a point and the relief in the dressing room was palpable. Simon Grayson spoke of hitting the right balance between enjoying the elusive win and not getting carried away, “As you can imagine, the dressing room was jubilant, and we had to enjoy that moment but not get carried away. You’ve got to get that balance right. There is a lot of work still to do if we have to get to our targets.

He added, “It’s a start. It broke a cycle of results we were having. We have to keep working hard, keep improving and keep believing in ourselves. We know what we’re capable of, but we can’t think we’ve broken the cycle completely. We’ve got to keep working hard to make sure we keep the momentum going.”

Tackling ATKMB’s individual threats

ATKMB have numerous individuals who can change the game with strokes of brilliance. Grayson outlined his plans of winning the individual battles as a priority, “Our approach to this game is no different from our approach to any other game. We know the strengths; we know their weaknesses. We put into practice our strengths and where we can hurt them as well.

He added, “The players are clear on the game plan. What we do at the weekend boils down to what happened last weekend. More players won individual battles than Goa players did. That is simplifying football and we have to do the same again this weekend.”

Returning to the fortress

A difficult start to the season for Bengaluru FC was further compounded with just three home matches in the initial stages. Grayson was delighted to be back at the fortress.

“Everyone knows this is a fortress, and we have to make sure that we turn it into a fortress again. We suffered disappointment against East Bengal. Players bounce off the energy of the supporters, and we really need them. A few bad results can turn into positive ones by being at home, and when the atmosphere is incredible. We’re looking forward to it, but we have to earn the right to win any match, whether you’re home or away.”

Injury update

Injuries have also contributed to BFC’s attacking woes, but Simon Grayson finally has a full squad to pick from, barring a few niggles.

“As it happens, at this moment, we’ve got no major injuries. We have a few niggles, but no major ones, fortunately. We’re working towards a replacement for Prince Ibara. We’ll see where that takes us in the next few days, or over the coming week.”

Rising confidence for Javi after Goa brace

Javi switched sides from Odisha to Bengaluru this summer. He took some time to get used to a different playing style but got off the mark in Blue with a timely brace. Javi said, “We went to Goa in a very difficult situation. We lost the last four matches and Goa is a very good team. Our team showed character, put on a good show and I felt we deserved those points.”

Javi assesses his former team

Javi was a part of the Mariners’ 2020-21 ISL campaign. He said, “ATK Mohun Bagan are a very good team. I’ve played in India for four years, and I know that in this League none of the games are going to be easy. We must keep working hard and make sure that we do our best in this game.”

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