The new tactician and goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu addressed the media on Tuesday.

Bengaluru FC are all set to face Nepal’s Tribhuvan Army FC in their AFC Cup qualifier in Goa. Bengaluru qualified for the second round of the AFC Cup qualifiers after finishing third in the 2019-20 Indian Super League (ISL) season. Their opponents qualified for the second round of the qualifiers after defeating Sri Lanka Police FC 5-1 in the first round of qualifiers. Ahead of the match, Bengaluru’s newly-appointed head coach Marco Pezzaiuoli and goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu spoke to the media.

High team spirit

This will be Marco Pezzaiuoli’s first competitive game in-charge of Bengaluru FC. On being asked about the mood in the dressing room, the 52-year old said, “The mood is very good. We had not an easy time because of COVID-19.  Now, for the AFC Cup the team spirit is good, very good. I think we are very well-prepared for the first game.”

On ISL 2020-21 season

Bengaluru FC had a season to forget in the recently-concluded ISL after finishing seventh and failing to qualify for the playoffs.  On being asked how it has impacted the team’s morale going ahead, the former Hoffenheim manager stated, “The situation does not change. It is the same squad.

“But, the most important thing in life is don’t look back, always look forward. You can see the glass as half full or half empty. For me, it’s half full and that’s why I am very positive. I faced the team, they have a very great spirit. (They are) a very hard-working bunch. I think they want to leave the league behind them. I told them also we are starting at zero and preparing for the AFC Cup. That is a different tournament,” he further added.

Young players are developing everyday

The newly-appointed Bengaluru manager had only positive things to say about the youngsters in his team.

“The youngsters are very good. They are working hard. We had some difficult time earlier because of the COVID-19 situation . They didn’t train for 10-14 days. Also, the national team players were not with us. But, I see the young players developing everyday. Everyday they are working very hard and they are really close to the starting XI.

“In the last game we tried to play a lot of youngsters in the starting XI. That has exerted some pressure on the players who previously used to start regularly. We are a squad of 18-20 players,” he said.

On Tribhuwan Army FC

The 52-year old was also wary of the threat posed by their opposition. “They are quick, they are fast, they are good on the ball. They are focused on counter-attack. It is our issue to prepare not getting chances against us. It is not possible 100%, but we are really focused on them not creating chances and creating our own chances to score goals. We need to have a high tempo in the game. I think that is one important part,” Marco Pezzaiuoli explained.

Gurpreet Singh Sandhu‘s comments

Accompanying Marco Pezzaiuoli was Bengaluru FC and Indian football team goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu. The 29-year-old spoke about his team’s preparations, as they get ready to start their continental campaign. He said, “I think it’s very important for the team, especially after the break to get physically ready and then also with time to get practically ready.

“I think our coach has done a very good job. Everyone feels good, they feel confident and fresh as well. Everyone is happy and everyone is raring to go in the AFC Cup campaign. With the club’s history, it is a very important tournament for us. It’s important to have a good start as well.”

Despite being regulars in the AFC Cup, Bengaluru FC went out in the preliminary stages of the competition last season. On being asked about the impact of their disappointing performance last time out, the Bengaluru FC No. 1 replied, “Obviously, last year was disappointing for us. Because we have been to the knockout stages, to the group stages.

“So, for us it is important to continue on that. If we reach the group stage and the knockout stage on a regular basis that means we are doing something really well. To not be able to do that last year was a big blow for us. I promised myself and the players that were involved as well, that if we get a chance again then we will make sure that we don’t repeat the mistakes that we made last year,” he signed off.

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