The interim coach acknowledged that the club are undergoing a tough time at present in the league.

It has not been an easy induction for Naushad Moosa as the interim coach of Bengaluru FC. The 49-year old has overseen the team for two games since longstanding tactician Carles Cuadrat departed. Since then, the team have picked up a solitary point in the Indian Super League and lost influential midfielder Dimas Delgado owing to personal reasons. However, the Bengaluru man was not fazed by this and highlighted the importance of the break between the 1-1 draw with NorthEast United and their must-win clash against Kerala Blasters. 

Mentality of squad & change in style of play

“There are a lot of changes and positivity in the camp. We’ve got a good 5-6 days break to train. We didn’t have that in the previous two games. We worked on aspects that did not go our way and hopefully we play a better game tomorrow. The break has helped a lot,” said Naushad Moosa. 

The former Mahindra United man also went on to reveal that he has not asked the players to alter the team’s style significantly since Cuadrat left the club. 

“I just want to clarify that I only got three games and did not have enough time. We are not changing our style of play a lot. What we changed is asking the players to retain the ball more and when we do lose it, we stay compact. There is not much the players need to do. It is simple information for them to consider. We need to find Dimas’ replacement and he would need time to adjust to that position,” said the 49-year old.

Dimas Delgado’s absence 

Dimas’ departure has left a sizeable hole in the middle of the park for the Blues, as he was the creative lynchpin for the team with his set-pieces and ability to dictate the tempo of the game. The coach called for everyone to respect the midfielder’s privacy at a difficult time. 

“Dimas had a problem with his family and has chosen not to reveal this now. We need to respect his privacy. He was an important part of our team. It’s not that we do not have quality players remaining. The boys are positive. It makes me happy that the boys want to go out there and fight for the game,” said Naushad Moosa. 

He also indicated that it may be the last the club could see of the midfielder this season, given that the Spaniard had to leave the bio-secure bubble. Moosa realizes the volume of the task at hand with Dimas and Ashique Kuruniyan ruled out probably for the whole season. 

“If Dimas does return, there are quarantine rules to be followed. It will be difficult for him to come back to the team given this and how the matches are scheduled. We are not thinking about that now and are thinking on who can fill his position. Losing both Dimas and Ashique affects the organization of the team.

“We are professionals at the end of the day and we must go out and play. Ashique was an asset given how he would challenge defenders. What we need to do is work with the players we have. I cannot sit back and give excuses that we do not have Ashique or Dimas and not play good football,” said the Bengaluru coach. 

Opportunity for young talent

The coach also indicated that this would be an opportunity to introduce more young talent into the team, which would be a boost for next season and also the players’ confidence. 

The Blues face a resurgent Kerala Blasters side that has racked up two wins on the trot after a slow start to the season. The Blasters were on the wrong side of a 4-2 loss to Bengaluru the last time they met, something that Naushad Moosa does not want to use as preparation ahead of this game. 

“I really do not want to use the last time we met Kerala as a reference. I do not want the players to relax. Kerala are playing well and are motivated. They are attack-minded, pressing high and we must be careful. We must look for small mistakes to capitalize. It won’t be an easy match, as they are high on confidence after winning two games,” said the coach. 

Xisco Hernandez’s arrival

The Blues saw Ajay Chhetri and Deshorn Brown leave the club to East Bengal and NorthEast United respectively, while former Blue Xisco Hernandez arrived to give the team some much-needed impetus on the attacking front. 

“Xisco arrived yesterday and will be quarantined for 14 days. So, he will not be available. We as a club want to help our players develop. Ajay is getting a good number of games with East Bengal. Deshorn was not being given enough playing time. We felt that for his development he needs to go and play. It’s what he wanted. It was good for him and we need to help him as a player,” revealed Naushad Moosa.

Difficult to sign new players

He also ruled out further signings for the season given the 14-day quarantine rule and the proximity of the matches going ahead. 

“The situation with COVID-19 makes it difficult for us to get a new player and fit him straight into the system. There is not enough time, as we have close matches. This was an instance where we got seven days. The other matches are in 3-4 days’ time. Getting a new player looks difficult because of the quarantine rules and visa,” said Moosa. 

Tough Times

The club are in a difficult moment with the loss of their coach, two key players and being mid-table in the middle of an ISL season. Naushad Moosa admitted that this was an unusual situation. 

“This situation is not what we are used to in the last six years. It is not easy for any of us. The only thing is to be positive and work the way we are. We have not given up, as we have nine games in hand. We want to go for the three points against Kerala. If we see the league table in the last 3-4 games, the results are in our favour. All games are very close and things are still open,” signed off the coach. 

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