The Spaniard expects a considerable challenge from the rather out-of-form Blasters.

With the long and frustrating international break now completed, it’s time for the Indian players to bring their focus back onto the immediate priority – the Indian Super League. The league restarts exactly where it left off, at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru. With a convincing win over Chennaiyin FC already in the bag, Carles Cuadrat and his men are set to face-off against Kerala Blasters, in a game that has come to be known as the Southern Derby.

Ahead of what promises to be a spectacular affair on Saturday night, the Blues’ head coach addressed the media with some assistance from midfield hero Erik Paartalu. The tactician began by saying, “We have been doing all our work in the right way from the start of the season. We got a good result last time, but the other three games could’ve also been victories, had things gone a different way.”

Players In National Team & Injuries

Carles Cuadrat was asked whether his team’s heavy involvement with the national side would have a negative effect in terms of fatigue, when compared to Kerala Blasters, who had fewer representatives. The Spaniard responded, “I am always trying to be positive. You can look at it like that. Or you can think that my players are participating in games in big competitions, that gives them that extra bit of experience and learning.”

“When you play at the international level, it is a good challenge for any player in the world. So, I have no problem with that,” said Carles Cuadrat.

The coach was then asked whether he had any injury concerns going into the crucial match, to which he responded, “We are currently working with Rahul Bheke, because he had a little bit of a muscle problem. But, it’s not bad, so we are trying to get him ready for tomorrow’s game.”

Carles Cuadrat, in response to being asked about Manuel Onwu, said, “I am trying to work out the best way for our team to move forward. I’m trying to make my team as match-competitive as possible and that’s visible in all the games so far.”

Ashique Kuruniyan’s Role

The coach was then quizzed about whether he planned to continue using Ashique Kuruniyan in the wing-back role, despite his performance against Chennaiyin last time out, when he played in a more advanced role on the left wing. The Spaniard said, “I am not going to give any clues about that. But, like I’ve said from Day One, Ashique is a very versatile player. So, I think I can play him in various positions. At the end of the day, every coach has to try to bring the best out of their squad.”

Erik Paartalu’s Experience Post Recovery

Bengaluru FC midfielder Erik Paartalu was then asked about how his experience was coming back into the side after a break and scoring on his return as well. He smiled involuntarily and then went on to say, “Yes, it was a good moment and a good way to re-introduce myself to Indian football. It was made a lot easier with good players and staff around me. I was unlucky to get an injury before the season commenced, but we had a good pre-season and I know this is just the start for me. I can push on from here.”

The Blues’ midfielder was then asked about Raphael Augusto’s impact on the side, to which he responded, “He’s been great to have in the side. You know that he’s the kind of player who can create something out of nothing. but more important for us is just his presence. He’s been around for a couple of years, he’s won titles before and he’s got a lot of experience. We’re going to look to him to produce moments of magic this season and playing with Dimas (Delgado) and Rafa next to me, makes my job a lot easier.”

About The Southern Derby

To finish, Erik Paartalu was asked about the game itself and what it meant to be playing in a derby. He responded, “Yes, there’s a lot of people that live in Bengaluru that are from Kerala as well, so it makes it a bit more of a rivalry. But, as players, we just take each game as it comes. There’s sure to be a lot of people out to support Indian football and it’s up to us to put on a kind spectacle for the fans that induces loyalty, makes them want to come every week. It’s surely going to be a great occasion.”