The Bengaluru FC tactician also gave important injury updates about his players.

Bengaluru FC got back to winning ways last week at home with a narrow 1-0 victory against Shield holders Jamshedpur FC. Danish Farooq’s early strike proved to be the difference and a solid defensive performance helped BFC hold on to their clean sheet. Ahead of Hyderabad’s visit to the Kanteerava, coach Simon Grayson and Gurpreet Singh Sandhu addressed the media.

Here’s what they said.

Learnings from the victory against Jamshedpur

BFC secured their third victory of the season with a dogged performance. Getting three points was crucial to Bengaluru’s playoff chances. Gurpreet spoke of the victory, “It’s good to get a clean sheet and a win at home, which we could not do against ATK Mohun Bagan. We need to build up on this and make sure that we are strong at the back. Hopefully, we replicate that result with more goals tomorrow.”

Grayson added,” You have to learn from each game. There were certain aspects from last week’s game that were really pleasing. Others we need to improve on. Against some other opposition, we may not have got the three points. The three games we have won this year have all been with clean sheets. If you eradicate mistakes and approach games with a positive attitude, you have a far better chance of winning football matches. Regardless of who we are playing, we have the team to beat anyone.”

The defensively resolute Nizams

Hyderabad FC have the best defence in the league so far, conceding only six goals from 10 matches. Simon Grayson analysed his upcoming opponents, “They are a team that have been together for a long time. They won the trophy last year obviously. When we played them earlier, it was a close game. We’ve got to play with confidence and not arrogance. One win helps but it does not turn your season around. They’ve got (Bartholomew) Ogbeche who has scored a number of goals and it is a good test for us.”

He added, “We have to back up last week’s win and try to get back-to-back wins at home. You could sense the feel-good factor among the supporters, players, and staff.  We must turn this back into a fortress; we have not lost too many games here. We know their strengths and weaknesses, move the ball quickly and get on the ball and look for more luck sometimes. If you can get a two-goal advantage, it relaxes everybody a little bit more. If we don’t allow oppositions half chances, you get closer to winning and closing out games.”

Fitness update on key foreigners

BFC have missed a number of players through injury in every fixture. Simon Grayson provided an update on Udanta Singh, Alan Costa, and Bruno Ramires’ injuries and also on new signing Pablo Perez’s fitness, “He (Pablo) is a lot closer than when he first came on to the club with the amount of training he’s had. Last week when we trained he was saying how he was blowing and couldn’t get a second breath. His fitness levels are still not up there and that also comes with making lots of runs as a substitute. He’s getting close to 100% fit and can certainly make an impact off the bench.

He added, “The opportunity that he had was a great passing move he nearly finished off. He also gives us different options off the sides, such as a nine, ten, or eight. Udanta’s edging closer, Alan has missed the last couple of games but moving closer. Bruno is not too far away.

“At some time this season, it would be nice to have a full complement of foreigners to start with and full members of the squad to pick from. We have suffered a lot of injuries this season. When you are utilizing three of your six foreigners, it is not ideal. I would be surprised if the top six stays the way it is, given the injuries and form dips many teams are facing,” he furthered stated.

Transfer activity

Grayson hinted that there could be incomings in January only if they improve the squad. He mentioned that some players have already been earmarked for the summer window, “I am guided by people already at the football club. They say to me that not a lot of transfers take place in January. The season normally finishes in February-March but obviously this season is extended with the Super Cup.

“We’ve got a list of players that we know can be available. We’ve got a group of players that we can think about in the summer or now if need be. Our process and what we are thinking is we’ve got to get the right ones if we are going to do it. The biggest thing if we’re making signings in January is you’ve got to make sure they improve the squad and not only add numbers. It’s in our thought process but we’ll have to wait and see,” the mentor added.

Gurpreet’s view on Bengaluru’s defensive record

Despite lacking bite up front, Bengaluru FC have been hard to beat defensively. They have often been the architects of their own downfall, with individual errors costing them crucial points. Gurpreet praised his backline’s displays overall, “Everyone is getting those errors and mistakes we have done out of their systems. If everyone performs consistently enough, we have a very good chance of making things right and finish as high as possible on the table.

“Communication has been good with the defenders. Obviously, there are moments when things don’t go right at either end of the pitch. It’s happened when we have done really well for large moments of the game but there’s that one moment that makes things go the other way. But overall, I have been very happy with the set of players that I have in front of me. In training also, we have the same kind of commitment. That is why we have been doing well defensively. It’s all about confidence and consistency,” he added.

Gurpreet’s analysis of his season

Gurpreet Singh Sandhu has shown why he is India’s number one with a series of composed displays in goal. He assessed his performances saying, “For me personally, it has been pretty consistent if I compare myself to other seasons. With time and experience, it gets better with more information in training. It has been one of the better years in terms of performing consistently be it in training or games.”

Grayson added, “He’s a leader of the group and is vocal and experienced. He has enjoyed working with Andy Beasley, the goalkeeping coach. That has been a real help for all the keepers in our squad.”

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