The Blues’ head coach shared some important details before their maiden game of ISL 2021-22.

This Saturday (November 20) marks the beginning of a new chapter for Bengaluru FC in the Indian Super League. They’ll be keen to make amends for last season’s disappointing performance; glimpses of which have been evident in their pre-season so far. Under head coach Marco Pezzaiuoli, they’ll begin their ISL 2021-22 campaign against Khalid Jamil’s NorthEast United.

With the 53-year-old at the helm, the Blues have already played several games, starting from the AFC Cup to the pre-season games over the last couple of months. However, Saturday will be Marco Pezzaiuoli’s debut in the ISL. Ahead of their clash against NEUFC, the German tactician spoke at the pre-match press conference:

Preparations for game

First up, he gave an overview of the squad and their preparations for the clash against the Highlanders. “The new signings have done really well. Some of the foreign boys are much better at English than they were when they came in, which helps them understand the tactics and gel well. All the boys are available for the first game as is Iman (Basafa), who is our Asian player for the season. They’re really looking forward to the new tournament,” he began — addressing the status of foreign players.

Coming to the Indian players, he added, “Jayesh (Rane) is a very important player, we saw what he brings to the team in the AFC Cup and the practice matches we played. We’re looking forward to seeing him perform this season. Suresh (Singh) joined the team a bit later, but I think as we saw in the national team and with the U-23s, he’s a hard worker who is continuously improving. For him to take the next step in his career, he has to train and play games.

“We are well-prepared tactically, offensively, defensively and in transitions. A game every few days makes it better for us to improve regularly and we’re all very excited.”

Watch: Marco Pezzaiuoli and Khalid Jamil addresses the media in pre-match press conference

On gameplan for Saturday

Last season, under head coach Khalid Jamil, NorthEast United finished third in the standings with 33 points overall — thereby creating a club record of their highest points tally in the ISL. On this note, Pezzaiuoli shared his thoughts on the outlook towards facing a side of their stature.

He expressed, “NorthEast United are a strong team, they made the semi-final last year and have kept their main players. They are compact and have a strong mentality. We have to do well in defence and not give them too many chances. The plan is to create chances on the pitch, against a team with a strong Indian coach, who pushes his players from the sidelines. The plan is to play nice football. I like to see players who give 110% on the pitch. Some coaches want different things, but football is sometimes a bit of everything. Sometimes you dominate, sometimes you counter and it’s situation-based.”

Adding on, he stated, “We’ve prepared well and the important thing for me is to be strong and prepared mentally. We need to respect our opponent, have a match plan and try to make our game style the way we want to play.”

On Durand Cup’s influence

Next up, Marco Pezzaiuoli spoke about his side’s performance at the Durand Cup wherein they reached the semi-finals. In other words, shedding light on the important aspect of BFC’s youth and newly-promoted players. While much speculation has been made on their integration into the first-team, this status is still unpredictable.

“That our young players did well at the Durand Cup is good, but meeting the top teams in the Indian Super League is completely different. We will see a lot of young players this season, but it will take some time,” were his words on this topic.

Team News

Further, the tactician shared updates on his squad — concerns and unavailable players after the pre-season friendlies. He revealed that all foreign players were available, but also stated that there were injury concerns with a few Indian players.

“We do have Harmanpreet (Singh), who hasn’t joined the squad as you know already. Parag (Shrivas) has an injury to his elbow and also Akashdeep (Singh) and Rohit (Kumar) (ankle injuries) will take a bit longer to return from their injuries,” he disclosed; referring to injuries caused during the recent pre-season friendlies (barring Harmanpreet’s injury during the Durand Cup).

Approach towards the 2021-22 season

Finally, Marco Pezzaiuoli ended the press conference by talking about his mentality towards the season along with some remarks for fans.

“I’m really eager to get started. The players have been training for a long time. It’s not really to keep the mindset high when you are training in the bubble, but we’re all motivated. It takes time, you can’t switch on the lights and say that we are BFC. We work together every day and I promise you the plan is to be better than we were in the last season,” he concluded.

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