The home side’s tactician also felt that his team have the advantage of having fresh legs.
Bengaluru FC host NorthEast United FC in the return leg of the first semi-final of the Indian Super League. NorthEast come into the game with a 2-1 lead, thanks to a controversial penalty scored by Juan Cruz Mascia. The game assures another 90 minutes of high-intensity football and lots of the drama that we saw in Guwahati, given that the stakes are so high.
The two coaches met the media for the pre-match press conference:
Carles Cuadrat (Bengaluru FC)
Before starting to talk about his team’s second leg, Carles Cuadrat explained how sorry he was for Jorge Costa and his side for losing by such a huge margin that they don’t have any hopes in the second leg. He also expressed his thankfulness for not being in a similar situation.
He said, “I am happy that I come here with a result that we can play for. I am only not happy with the end of the game, the penalty we conceded.”
NEUFC have an injury-plagued squad that has only 16 players fit for the game. Cuadrat explained how his side have the fresh legs that could well be needed, if the game stretches for an extra 30 minutes of play.
He stated, “I am happy with the fact that we have players with fresh legs. In the last game, NorthEast United played well in the first half, but struggled in the second. I don’t know what happened. But, I am sure that we can even go on till extra-time if the game needs us to.”
Cuadrat was very cynical about the way Juan Mascia plays, but the Bengaluru manager also maintained the fact that he respects him as a professional. He went on to make a point by providing some audacious statistics, which seemed to question the player’s intents in the box in the dying minutes of the game. The Bengaluru coach also felt that his team was hard done by the referee after the penalty was awarded.
He opined, “Why is it a penalty? I have my opinion. I think everybody saw it. If you see, it was a peculiar fall of Mascia. You can say one should control the emotions, but I have been in football for 40 years and I know how it works. Mascia has won his side three penalties in extra-time this season. I have full respect for him.”
“It is a decision of the referee and we have to respect it. We have Sunil (Chhetri), Udanta (Singh) and Miku, some of the best attackers. Yet, we won only one penalty this season,” Cuardat added.
Eelco Schattorie (NorthEast United)
Eelco Schattorie refrained from elaborating on the condition of Rowllin Borges and others. He wants to keep the Bengaluru side in the dark about his players’ fitness. The former East Bengal coach though did reveal the number of players he has available for the game. “No updates… Let them guess. I’m being more strategic, I’m sorry. I have only 16 players left.”
Schattorie sees these injuries and the team selection as a puzzle, a puzzle he has to solve. The NorthEast manager has to provide his side with the strength and solidity to have the physical fitness to last 90 minutes of play and even 120 if the game demands.
“At the beginning of the season, you always try to recruit players in such a way that if one goes out, you will have another player, but that’s not always possible. At this moment I really have a puzzle think how we are going to make the strongest team from the players I have.”
Cuadrat’s point about Schattorie’s team not deserving the penalty wasn’t taken well by the latter. The Dutchman was not keen to keep nagging about the penalty, or whatever decisions were made in the game and thinks of it to be of no use. He wants everyone to respect the referee’s decision and move on. He also claimed the post-game fracas was a situation blown out of proportion.
He said, “When we played Bengaluru earlier, we scored from a soft penalty and I was the first one to admit it. We should be objective. In my opinion, the goal they scored was a clear foul in the midfield. We can’t keep nagging on it, it’s all a part of the game. We have to respect the referees. I think the goal we scored was 100% correct. There are no discussions there, I’m sorry.”
“I don’t know what happened exactly. I spoke to my assistant coach and I am not going into details, but overall, I think it’s blown out of proportion. Even they shook hands after that and everything was fine,” Schattorie added.
Bengaluru have their full squad fit and available for the game.
NorthEast United have just 16 players match-fit. But the Highlanders’ tactician refrained to name the available ones and the ones who are out.
Sandhu, Nishu, Juanan, Bheke, Khabra, Delgado, Luisma, Udanta, Miku, Xisco, Chhetri.
Pawan, Reagan, Rivas, Grgic, Robert, Leudo, Puitea, Gallego, Tlang, Mascia, Kadam.
Did You Know?
- Bengaluru hold the edge over NorthEast in the head-to-head games between the two sides. (3 wins and 1 loss).
- NorthEast have scored 9 goals in the final fifteen minutes of games this season, one more than Bengaluru.
- Bengaluru have conceded five goals in the final fifteen minutes of games this season, one more than NorthEast.
The match will take place on Monday at 7:30 PM at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru. On television, the match will be broadcast live on the Star Sports Network. Meanwhile, it will also be streamed on Hotstar and Jio TV.