With just a week to go for the start of the I-League qualifier, we take an in-depth look at the preparations of individual teams through the eyes of the players and coaching staff.
For this edition, we sat down with FC Bengaluru United’s Brandon Green to discuss the team’s chances and his personal experience of representing one of the most promising upcoming teams in the country.
So how has the team been shaping up for the new season? “It has been good so far. We have been training hard this past week since landing in Kolkata. Everyone is looking forward to having a great tournament and giving their best,” he says with quiet confidence.
The lockdown of course came at an inopportune moment for the club which was sitting 2nd in Group C of the I-League 2nd division, behind ARA FC on goal difference and Brandon feels that the culture within the club is a huge reason for their promising displays recently.
“I have been pleasantly surprised by the level of professionalism that is visible from everybody here at the club, be it my teammates, the coaches, the management or the supporting staff. The balance between youth and experience as well as the camaraderie that all of us share is one of the major facets of our side,” the former ATK FC Reserves captain points out.
We asked him how the players had been keeping fit amidst the lockdown and he was quick to acknowledge the role of the coaching staff in handling that aspect. “Ever since I have come here, the coaches have all been extremely helpful with their inputs, regarding both on-field stuff as well as off-field activities. All of us were provided with highly specific workout plans by our fitness trainer even when we were at home during the lockdown and that helped me keep myself fit and focus on the upcoming season,” he added.
Brandon, who hails from Kalyani in West Bengal, is set to take the field when his side locks horns against Bhawanipore FC in their first match on the 8th of October. Coincidentally, he was a student of Bhawanipore Gujarati Education Society College and has a lot of friends associated with his upcoming opponents, making it sort of a nostalgic homecoming for him.
Brandon Green in action in last season I-League 2nd Div (Source: FCBU Media)
He also cannot wait to play at the historic Salt Lake stadium, which, in his own words ‘is a dream come true for every Bengali kid who loves the game and has grown up watching some fantastic encounters on the hallowed turf at Salt Lake over the years’.
Having played mostly as a centre-back till now, the past season saw Brandon pushed further forward as the defensive midfielder who screens the back line. How did this change come about?
“You know, I love playing as a centre-back, but I have always been the kind of player who loves having the ball at his feet and dictating the pace of the game. The credit for this change in position should go to the coaches, Richard Hood and Gourmangi Singh, who encouraged me to adapt my game and worked a lot with me on my technique in training,” said the Xabi Alonso fan.
On being asked about the adjustments that he has had to make in his game to make the transition seamless, he replied, “It’s all about awareness. As a defender, you have the entire game being played in front of you but as a midfielder, you have to be slightly more aware about the position of opposition attackers and be assured with your first touch. So that is what I have been working on”.
We also asked him to share a little insight on how the team trains and whether a lot of data crunching is involved in analysing opponents. “Yes of course, the coaches analyse opponents as well as our own training sessions and pass on relevant information to us which we then try to work on.”
The club has indeed been quite proactive in this department, accessing DEXA scans for individual players and using GPS and heart rate monitoring to assess the players’ progress, and Brandon feels this will surely give them an edge during critical moments in matches.
So what can the fans expect from the team this season, what are the key objectives that the team is aiming to fulfil? “Our first target is to obviously win the qualifiers and book a place in the I-League.
"It will be incredibly special because as of now, Karnataka has no representation in the I-League and we want to change that. We are working hard, following all the safety protocols and trying to stay motivated in these difficult times. Hopefully we will be able to give the fans a lot to cheer about,” he says as he gears up for what could be the season that marks the beginning of a new and very interesting chapter for the club.