The Spaniard revealed how his team are preparing for the big game against FC Goa.

Ahead of what promises to be a thrilling clash against Indian Super League high-flyers FC Goa, Bengaluru FC head coach Carles Cuadrat addressed the media, with some assistance from Indian striker Semboi Haokip. The tactician started off by wishing everyone a happy New Year and then went into his thoughts on the upcoming fixture.

“All the games against Goa are very interesting. There was a final, a penalty in the last minute for them, Nishu Kumar getting sent off, I even remember the 4-3 in Fatorda in Goa. It’s good because we can expect anything.”

“The players have remained more or less the same, but I think that we are having a good season – quite similar to the last one. We lost our foreign striker for nine games last time around and this time we have lost Manuel Onwu for seven games. Despite this, the team has been tactically, physically and mentally good and strong enough to stay in the playoffs positions.”

The Spaniard then went on to speak about their misfortune with international strikers. He began, “We have only been able to use Manuel for three games so far this season, out of which two of them he was playing with a lot of pain in the ankle, which is why we decided to stop. But, we have been trying the No. 9 position using Semboi, Sunil (Chhetri), Raphael (Augusto).”

“Football is a game of numbers and although we haven’t scored too many, the attackers have all had massive jobs to do defensively and they’ve helped maintain a good enough balance within the squad to fight for the playoffs positions.”

The coach was then quizzed about the game in hand and asked whether it would be similar to the one from earlier in the season. He responded, “I love the way that Goa play because they have the most number of goals under Sergio Lobera and they’re a very good team to watch. At the same time, we are football professionals too and we know how it works. But, they are clever, taking advantage of certain situations that the referees should punish.”

“They were lucky that four players who were on yellow cards didn’t get booked again, although there were a lot of chances to do so. Maybe the referees cannot see the tricks that we as professionals can see very clearly. They take advantage of that. I think that sometimes referees are not brave enough to control the game with the rules that are currently in the competition.”

“If you look at the last 10 weeks, we are the team having the least yellow cards, we have conceded the least number of fouls. It shows that we understand the rules and that we play within the rules. Goa are very clever in attack and in defence, but sometimes in a way that would be punished by a different referee.”

The media then quizzed Semboi about the pressure of starting for Bengaluru FC. He said, “The team and head coach, we are not under pressure, we have to stick together and can get the points.” Cuadrat then weighed in, “I have always put a lot of pressure on him and I am pushing him a lot, but he’s doing a good job.”

Asked about new signing Deshorn Brown, the coach said, “I don’t think he will be ready for tomorrow, but for the Jamshedpur game he will be ready. He is a scorer who has been consistently scoring in different leagues and also has the experience of playing in Asia and Europe. So, we hope that he can adapt to India as soon as possible. He has just completed a full season in the USA and after a very short break, we hope that he can quickly start playing with us.”

The next question was about the fact that the Blues are set to play five games in the month of January. The coach replied, “If you look at February it’s even worse, we have to play two games in a week and seven games in the month. That’s the reason we have 25 players in the squad. They are all working hard and helping the team. I haven’t given opportunities to too many players off the bench yet, but in a pressure situation, I’d rather bring on someone like Eugene (Eugeneson Lynghdoh) or Rino (Anto) because I don’t want to put them under pressure.”

Carles Cuadrat, when asked about the defeat against ATK and the impact it would have tomorrow said, “If you look at the two losses this season, they have been by just one goal and we have lost points in the late stages as well. When you play against good teams with good players, one goal and the whole game changes.”

Asked about a possible lack of confidence he responded, “We are working a lot on that and even though we don’t have the budget for a psychologist in the team, we talk about that a lot. Udanta (Singh) and Ashique (Kuruniyan) are both young, but need to improve on their quality after getting into the box.”

“There is still a difference in quality between foreign and Indian strikers – that is a reality. But, we have been working very hard with them trying to get them up to the same level.”

Head-To-Head

The Blues have been the dominant force in this fixture since the start, as can be seen in their record against the Goans. With four wins out of six matches and just a single defeat, Carles Cuadrat will be hoping for more of the same this time around.

Team News

Carles Cuadrat has confirmed that he has a full strength squad going into this game and that even Onwu will be in the matchday squad tomorrow. However, new acquisition Brown isn’t available for selection.

Predicted Lineup

Sandhu; Bheke, Serran, Juanan, Nishu; Paartalu, Dimas; Udanta, Chhetri, Kuruniyan; Onwu

Broadcast

This Indian Super League fixture will be telecast on  the Star Sports Network from 7:20 PM IST on Friday. It can also be streamed on Hotstar and Jio TV.