The Garden City club will open their ISL campaign against reigning champions Chennaiyin FC.
Bengaluru FC coach Carles Cuadrat outlined the need for the club to maintain the high standards they have set in the last five years as they gear up for their season opener against Chennaiyin FC while speaking to the media during the Indian Super League Media Day at the JW Marriot Hotel in Bengaluru on Thursday.
“The most important thing for us at Bengaluru is that we have to keep our mentality intact. We want to win trophies like we have in the past seasons, and we also want to reach the final stages of competitions. The club has always been competitive and when you reach that stage, it’s just about the last few games which decide whether you become champions or not,” said Cuadrat when talking about the challenge of leading Bengaluru.
“Last season we had an amazing league phase in the ISL which brought us to the big final. We fell short there, but went on to win the Super Cup. Similarly, the club had lost a league title at home a few years back in the last few moments. What makes the club and the supporters stronger is the desire to reach and stay at that level and that is something we work very hard on,” added Cuadrat.
Speaking on the new signings that will take the field in the ISL, he said, “It will be strange for our supporters to see some of our players in other jerseys. We understand that, and it happens all over the world. But we have made some exciting signings this season. They will adapt to the team and to be honest, the team will slightly adjust its tactics to welcome them as well. I’m really looking forward to seeing them play.”
Bengaluru custodian Gurpreet Singh Sandhu played down the hype surrounding the Blues’ opener against Chennaiyin FC while highlighting the importance of putting on a good performance in front of the home fans. “We have to begin the season against someone, and if that someone is Chennaiyin, so be it. What’s important is that we go out there each time and put on a good performance. What matters is not who the opposition is, but that we focus on what we can do well. Every season is an opportunity to do one better, not just as a team but as an individual as well, so I’m just looking to contribute to the club in this campaign.”
Playmaker Dimas Delgado who has been out of competitive action since last season’s ISL final, made his comeback during the pre-season in Spain. However, having picked up another injury, the Spaniard was further ruled out of the Blues’ AFC Cup knockout campaign. Fit and eager to play, Dimas feels the adrenaline rush and is excited for the new signings.
“It feels really good to be back in shape. I have been working for a long time to get back from the injury I suffered against Chennaiyin in March. I wanted to play in the AFC Cup, but couldn’t. Now that I am fit and ready, I’m eager to help my team as much as I can. As far as the new players are concerned, changes keep happening in every club. All the boys who’ve come in this season have always given their one hundred per cent in training. They are open to learning and listening, and they want to help the team as much as we do.”
The introduction of the international breaks is unusual for the ISL but has already found backing from India’s leading players, particularly Bengaluru FC goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu.
“I think it’s pretty normal all over the world. There is a break in winters. If you look at any other league, during the Christmas time there is a break. It can be an advantage for teams. If there are some things which need to be worked on, like extra tactics, it can be done (during this period),” stated Gurpreet at the Hero ISL Media Day here in Bengaluru.
The Bengaluru and India custodian believes the two breaks in the first half of the season provides the team with ample opportunities to set the wrongs right, while also providing rest for weary players.
“It is a good opportunity for players to rest a bit after having almost played half of the league. The injured players have time to recover. It is something which is useful. If the league keeps getting longer every year, it is something which we can use to our advantage,” he said.
His sentiments were echoed by his team-mate Dimas Delgado who believes the window needs to be utilised to the hilt by the club.
“Our staff is working on what we should do during the break. We have to make the most of the international break. We have to work harder during that time. We must also keep in mind where we are going at that point in the season, and make the most of the break,” said the Spanish midfielder.
The Blues open their Indian Super League campaign with a clash against Chennaiyin FC at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium on September 30.