The third game of the 2020-21 Indian Super League (ISL) season will feature FC Goa and Bengaluru FC at the Fatorda stadium in Margao on Sunday evening. Here are the excerpts from the pre-match press conference with Bengaluru FC head coach Carles Cuadrat.
On FC Goa and the challenge that they pose
FC Goa topped the group stages last season. They are a very good team and have played consistently well for the past few seasons. It is definitely going to be a difficult game. They have a new coach in Juan Ferrando who must have studied us thoroughly and will bring his own ideas. They have quite a few new foreign players as well and are a competitive unit overall so we have to be ready for tomorrow.
On how different is it to prepare for the season in a bio-bubble
The situation is similar to normal games in terms of the match-day routine and training but it is of course very different when you consider the restrictions that are in place. It will get more complicated now when players start to interact with external parties on a regular basis. But it is a part of our job and we have to be ready physically, mentally and tactically.
We, the coaching staff at Bengaluru FC, are trying to make it easier for the players. I feel that in the first round of games, most teams won’t be at their best with some players arriving later than others. But in a month or so it will become much more competitive. The Indian players have been training for close to seven weeks now so it will be slightly easier for them in the beginning.
On how he expects the first few matches to be
I expect the matches in this season’s ISL to be very competitive. However, I think that the intensity will be less than what it was in February. The players haven’t played in a long time and all the teams have been affected by the pandemic situation in some way or the other. Having said that, we are positive and are ready to start the season with a good performance tomorrow.
On his side’s performances in the last couple of seasons
We have been challenging for the title for the last couple of years but were just not good enough towards the end of last season. Although we kept a lot of clean sheets with our defensive structure, we have to improve upfront with our finishing and creating more chances. We saw last night when Kerala got a few chances, missed them and ATK won the match in the end because they were more clinical in front of goal. I feel that lots of matches will be like that this season so we need to be more clinical.
On his side’s fitness ahead of the season opener and his objectives for the campaign
We have the full squad fit. Dimas (Delgado) had a muscle issue but it is nothing to worry about. The tactics are in place. We have changed positions and formations to see what suits the players best. The boys know what is expected of them and they are working hard in training. The new players are working well too. They understand the demands of the league and they will all be useful for us this season. We hope we can make the seventh ISL season ours and make the fans of Bengaluru happy.