FC Bengaluru United are confident that lessons learnt in the first two games will stand them in good stead when they clash with ARA FC of Ahmedabad in the I-League Qualifiers here on Wednesday. It’s one loss and one win for Bengaluru in the Hero I-League Qualifiers as the team from the south looks to secure the top spot on the league table. “We picked ourselves up after sacrificing all the points one could in our first game. But it’s all behind us now. Every single Bengaluru United player and staff knows that we cannot afford to drop any more points,” FC Bengaluru United head coach Richard Hood said.
“We understand the levels of performance and character that will be needed to see through our last two games in this tournament,” he added. Hood feels that his side has played “two very distinct games” in the tournament so far. “Our momentum will be built on the lessons that we have learnt and insights gathered in the 180 minutes of football that we have fought out so far. Two very distinct games as far as our performance and intent were concerned and we remain committed to the same levels of energy and unity that we have said so far,” he added.
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Meanwhile, ARA FC believe that the 1-4 loss that they suffered at the hands of local heavyweights Mohammedan SC was a “wakeup call” for them. “It’s a huge loss, definitely a wake-up call to push ourselves to the limit. First of all, we want players to forget about the last match and make them believe in themselves,” ARA head coach Vivek Nagul said. Having seen Bengaluru play, Nagul feels that having a few tricks up his sleeve could help the Ahmedabad-based side’s cause. “We have played earlier and also seen them playing in two games now. We know they are a physical team with high-pressing formation. Accordingly, we are working on different areas and I think we need to have a few surprises and changes in the team,” said Nagul.
Despite the losses in their respective opening games, both the sides are optimistic about their chances in the tournament, looking to bounce back into the title race. “It’s a short four-match format. So we can expect every team to come out with their best XI for every match. We expect the same from Bengaluru. They must be high on morale after the way they bounced back from a defeat in the last game,” said Nagul. “But we have to bounce back ourselves and get the three points if we have to get back in the promotion race.”
Meanwhile, Hood believes that the win against Garhwal was a good way for his side to bounce back in the race for promotion and that they could be in contention till the end.
“We believe that the win definitely keeps us in the mix of things as far as the championship is concerned and takes away any dependence on other results that could keep us alive and relevant going into matchday three, which is all that we are giving our attention to right now.”