The Blues will lock horns against Maziya S&RC in their final group game.

Bengaluru FC are set to take on Maldives’ Maziya S&RC on August 24. After picking up their only point in the goalless draw against Bashundhara Kings on Saturday, the team were knocked out of the AFC Cup 2021. Regardless, the club will now play their nemesis in the final game of the campaign. Ahead of the clash, Bengaluru FC head coach Marco Pezzaiuoli and defender Pratik Chaudhari spoke at the pre-match press conference.

On refereeing & final match of AFC Cup

“We’re highly motivated to finish well in this tournament. We trained this morning and I saw a good spirit. We had a good game, created a lot of chances and I think we deserved to win. I don’t know how you saw it, was it a goal?” Marco Pezzaiuoli began; referring to the controversial disallowed goal in the last game.

“I didn’t get anything from the AFC or the referees. Maybe the referee made a mistake? I think in football we try our best and so does the referee. We are sitting here with a different atmosphere because of the result. Normally, you hear from the AFC. It’s not bad to make mistakes, everyone does. I think it’s a good sign for everyone involved when you accept you got something wrong. It was three points for us and I think the team deserved that,” he added.

Update on Ashique Kuruniyan

The head coach also shed light on Ashique Kuruniyan’s situation. On the wing-back’s status, he said, “We have a fourth game in nine days, so we have to approach it differently. Ashique has an ankle injury, so he might be out for a period of time. We’ll see what we can do with the players who are available” thereby confirming his absence in the next game as well.

Approach towards tomorrow’s fixture

Speaking on his squad’s mentality and what tomorrow’s game would mean for the club, Marco Pezzaiuoli expressed, “As Sunil Chhetri told you at the beginning of the first press conference, history doesn’t decide football matches. It’s a new game, new teams, new people trying new things, new team spirit.

“One thing we know is that the Maziya team played two games and lost, but we need to respect them. We need to focus on our style. From the game against the team from Nepal, we have made several steps.

“I hope tomorrow we make another step forward for our mentality. It’s not easy, but in life it’s not always about winning. We want to progress and move forward regardless of the last result,” he added.

Mentality moving forward

“The team spirit is good. Today, in training, I saw it was very good. We may not be happy on the night of the game, but we talk about it and look forward and we’re positive.

“We worked hard in training and in the gym and we want to win this game. I’m 100% sure of that,” the tactician revealed regarding preparations against the Maldivian side.

Pratik Chaudhari’s thoughts on fixture

Pratik Chaudhari, BFC’s centre-back was also asked the same; his mentality and attitude for the upcoming challenge. Emphasizing on the team’s revamp, he responded, “We are a new team with a lot of young players. We’re highly motivated and are training well. In the matches, we’re playing football and we’re learning with each step. There’s a positive vibe that’s helping the team to play better.

“From the game against Tribhuvan (Army) until the one against Bashundhara, you can see we’ve improved. We’re in a good mood and we’re ready for the next challenge.”

On playing for Bengaluru FC

The 31-year-old also shared his feelings on his journey with the Blues so far. He expressed, “Bengaluru FC is one of the best clubs in India and I believe it is the best club in India. It’s the perfect platform for a player to showcase their talent for I-League or ISL players.

“When you play for BFC, you have a certain responsibility and you have to pick your game up. I feel any player who comes in should do the job and will be motivated to do the job.”

The road ahead

Lastly, Marco Pezzaiuoli was questioned on the upcoming ISL season commencing in November. “When you look back at last season, BFC finished seventh with a lot of experienced players. We’ve changed things up, we’ve brought in some young players – some of them from the I-League – and we showed them the next step,” he started; thereby, once again reflecting on the squad overhaul.

Adding to it, he also addressed the playing time given to some of the new guns and his focus on the ISL. “We had Danish (Farooq) and Bidya (Bidyashagar Singh) play a couple of games, and so did Rohit (Kumar and Jayesh (Rane). It’s a good thing to show them the next step. We have Alan (Costa) and (Yrondu Musavu)) King, and also Prince (Ibara) who couldn’t travel because of an injury. We will get a couple more foreigners for the League and I believe we have a good squad. I think we have a really good team, with a lot of national team players, young players and experienced like Pratik.

“I don’t want to finish in the seventh place in the ISL, I want to finish in the top four. A lot of the teams have had players for a long time together and that is not the case with us. We have a new squad and the plan is to work hard and do the best we can,” he concluded.

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