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The Bengaluru FC boss spoke of the need to rotate players as games come in thick and fast…

Bengaluru FC will seek to extend their unbeaten run in the Indian Super League (ISL) this season when they face ATK Mohun Bagan on Monday evening. The Blues bowed out of the competition last season in the play-offs with ATK progressing into the final and thereafter, winning their third league title.

Coach Carles Cuadrat believes that ATK Mohun Bagan are defensively solid and do not give a lot of space for the opposition to operate upon.

“I think it will be a very physical challenge. Their players are tough with big bodies and they play a high tempo game. You saw against Goa how they play as a compact team and try to take advantage of the open space. 

“We also, after five games in 21 days, are going to get some fresh legs. The team is playing well but I also think that we need to go in for some protection and play some players with less minutes, so that we can be tough from the first moment of the game,” said the Spaniard.

He opined that the game with ATK Mohun Bagan would be a tight affair with the two defences holding the key. He doesn’t expect a lot of goals but a game where little mistakes could make the difference in swinging the end result.

“It’s always good (match) between two different clubs with very good squads and supporters. It’s a kind of match that is very nice for Indian football. It’s my fifth year in India and we have played them (Mohun Bagan) in the I-League, Federation Cup (and other tournaments).

“Normally, they are quite a tight opposition and if you saw last season, the penalty that they (ATK) got in the second leg of the play-offs was crucial. Before that also, it was 1-0 for them. So, it’s going to be that kind of game with two compact teams and not a lot of things happening in attack because those kinds of games are normally controlled by the defenders and it will be little details that will decide the game.”

Ashique Kuruniyan suffered an injury in the last game against Odisha FC and could possibly miss out on the rest of the ISL season. Cuadrat admitted that he was concerned when Kuruniyan picked up an injury but mentioned that the player is being taken care of by the medical experts.

Sunil Chhetri Bengaluru ISL

“There is a good mood in the dressing room. All of us were shocked when we saw the incident with Ashique and we were worried for him but he’s in good hands. The club is controlling the situation,” said Cuadrat.

He once again pointed that ATK Mohun Bagan are defensively resolute and the challenge for his side will be to find openings and convert them.

“I think that every team in the league gives you a different challenge. All the teams have a specific behaviour. You have to prepare different games in a different way. We need to avoid their threats and create enough chances to score as they have conceded only a few goals. They have a serious defensive structure and we will try to beat them.”

In the absence of Ashique Kuruniyan, Cuadrat was asked if he would deploy Ajit Kumar, who is yet to feature for the club. The other options include deploying Rahul Bheke or Harmanjot Khabra as the two full-backs. It will be interesting to see if Cuadrat does decide to field Kumar in an important game against ATK Mohun Bagan or instead go for the experienced choice.

“Ashique was giving us a lot. If you see the statistics of the season, he has received 20 fouls because he was running from behind and been a threat for the other teams. So, it’s a pity that we lost him because he was working very well for us but we will try to find a solution. 

“Until now Ajith (Kumar) has not been in the (matchday) squad because he had a little injury in the pre-season. Our way of playing with a high defensive line is also something that takes some time to understand. In defence, you are with a lot of compromise (responsibility) because one mistake can award the opposition team [with an opportunity].

“It was useful for him to play in the friendless against Goa and Kerala. He’s understanding the situations and he’s going to be on the list for the next game. We hope he can give something to the team in the next few weeks,” explained Cuadrat.

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December 20, 2020
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