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Kalinga Super Cup

Simon Grayson: We want to win as many competitions as possible

Published at :April 25, 2023 at 11:31 AM
Modified at :April 25, 2023 at 11:31 AM
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Sathvik Bharadwaj

Bengaluru FC will battle Odisha FC in the Hero Super Cup final.

It has been a season to remember for Bengaluru FC. The Blues made it to the finals of the Durand Cup, Indian Super League, and now the Hero Super Cup. They won the Durand Cup, beating eventual Hero Indian Super League shield winners Mumbai City FC. They lost out on penalties in the ISL final to ATK Mohun Bagan.

Simon Grayson's men scripted a remarkable unbeaten run towards the end of the league season. They have continued with the same hunger and belief in the Hero Super Cup, and take on Odisha FC in the decider. BFC defeated Jamshedpur FC 2-0 in the semi-finals. The head coach was present in the pre-match press conference with captain Sunil Chhetri. Edited excerpts are as follows.

Approaching the third final of the season

Entering the third final this season, Simon Grayson and Sunil Chhetri have set their aims straight. The coach mentioned, "We've got to another final and like the previous finals, we want to try and win it. Making sure that you do the best that you can with the ultimate aim of winning the competition.

"We were obviously disappointed to lose the ISL final on penalties after such a great run. We mentioned after the game that we still got one more competition still to play, the Super Cup. Sunil Chhetri added, "Happy to have some experienced heads in the set-up. It does help."

Quality of the tournament and I-League clubs

Simon Grayson outlined the importance of winning the Hero Super Cup. He also analyzed the quality of the I-League outfits, after facing the top two teams in the league stages of the competition, "Well I think the tournament has been a good tournament and teams have approached in a different manner. You see Mumbai already qualified for an AFC competition so they played an all-Indian team every game.

"Ourselves and Odisha have been very strong. We know what is at the end of it if we can get through Gokulam. I think the teams that have played it from the I-League have been a credit to the I-League. I think never once in the two games that we played them two teams did we underestimate them and we had really tough games against both teams and I'm sure all of the ISL teams approached the game in the same manner as we did.

"It just shows you there are some good players and good teams in the I-League and obviously RoundGlass Punjab will be in the ISL next year and coupled with promotion and relegation next year I think. It gives the incentive for the I-League teams to get better and stronger. So I think the tournament has been a success in many ways."I think the tournament also has been a few issues as well, which sometimes happens with a lot of tournaments around the world. But overall we're pleased to be in this tournament and at this stage."

Several factors to weigh in as a coach

The English tactician admitted that the heat is a key factor and the importance of tactical substitutions. "The Heat has played a big part in this competition. Definitely, like every team that's been involved, we will be trying to win in 90 minutes and so will Odisha. We approach that problem as you go along.

"As coaches, you have to make sure that you have one eye on the extra time situation with your substitutions and how you play the game."

The mindset of the players

Chhetri added on the mindset ahead of the titanic clash, "I think in 2018 we were in a similar kind of situation where we lost the ISL finals on the last day and then we went to Super Cup which is not easy, hope we can do the same and get the same kind of results that we got. When you play the first edition, it's never done before so we got a feel of it already.""You go through lots of ups and downs. Football is not easy as a player, you have to dictate and find solutions to winning football matches when you're not winning them. When you are winning, you have to make sure you remain humble and level-headed, that you don't get too carried away with yourself. So we managed to come through a lot of obstacles over the course of the season. The ISL defeat hurt us and what I said after the game was we've got one more competition, let's use this as a motivation to go win another competition."

The hunger to win trophies

Grayson spoke of the magnitude of the Super Cup final for both clubs and how challenging it was to reach this far, "I'm a winner. We all want to win as many football matches as possible. We all want to win as many competitions as possible. And this doesn't change tomorrow night. It's another big game for both clubs.

"Will have worked extremely hard over the course of the season, worked extremely hard over the last few weeks to get to here. And everybody knows what to say. It's a really good game and hopefully, we can come out on top."

Representing the country in the AFC Cup.

The winners of the Hero Super Cup take on hosts Gokulam Kerala for a spot in the group stages of the Asian continental tournament, the AFC Cup. Grayson said, "I think it's a massive thing for both clubs to represent your country in a tournament. That magnitude is very pleasing for everybody. Our football club has been used to that for a number of years, but over the last couple of years have not had much success and we've worked extremely hard this year to try and achieve success and we want to win this competition to get to the AFC Cup as well."

Sunil Chhetri added, "It's another opportunity to sample different playing styles, different cultures, different teams. I think it is the main goal when you play you want to be champion because you want to be boss. AFC is the ultimate thing. We have been fortunate that we have played a lot of tournaments in our history. Last year we weren't there. We know how it feels, so we would do anything to return."