Bengaluru FC manager Albert Roca sounded cautious ahead of their AFC Cup Inter-Zonal play-off semi final first leg clash against DPR Korea's 4.25 SC. The Federation Cup champions lock horns against the Korean side on Wednesday afternoon at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium.
The Indian side has undergone a sea of changes in their squad this season due to their inclusion in the Indian Super League (ISL). Even though the club managed to retain quite a few players from last season, several new faces have joined their ranks.
Spanish manager Albert Roca as such remains cautious ahead of this big clash in the continental tournament. "To be honest, I would like more time to prepare. When you see the circumstances, you cannot do anything.
"You know the draft has been made on the 23rd July and we started training on the 26th. We had less than one month time with a new squad. We have to create the same feeling as we had in the last part of the season. It is not easy. I count on the attitude of the players. They have the motivation and are hungry," opined Roca.
Bengaluru had become the first Indian club to progress to the final of the AFC Cup last season. While they had 45 days to prepare for the competition last year round, the switch to ISL has left with only 30 days for this season's preparations. The club did have a fruitful pre-season tour of Spain earlier this month.
Speaking about lack of preparation time and their pre-season in Spain, the gaffer said, "You would like more time. The easy thing is to kick the ball and just run. I come from where I come from. I don’t understand football without playing on the floor.
"For others, it’s always a chance. It’s a shift of levels and it takes time. It’s a question of having more training sessions and quality of foreigners can help. I am sure Indians have shown good level in the I-League and the ISL and are ready for the challenge.
"The friendly games in Spain was important because the team that we will face will have the same orientation or even better than what we face tomorrow. Then you realize your weak points and strong points when you play against top teams. The idea is to put our players under pressure."
The Indian giants are set to miss the services of Englishman John Johnson, a towering figure in the Bengaluru defence. On Johnson's absence, Roca said, "We have to accept it. We are really happy with John but we are also happy with the players competing tomorrow. Everyone is focused on that."
4.25 SC is a quality side and one of the top teams in the DPR Korean League. They have a long history of playing at the continental level which makes things tougher for the Indian club. On facing such a tough opponent the Spanish coach opined, "We have seen some videos. They are quite powerful to put us in trouble. There is no cinema in DPR Korea, so they can train three times a day!
"They have a good organization, the team is really united. They have worked in that system for a long time. But it is football. You just have to play. What I said earlier is that we need motivation. My first goal is to see that our boys are mentally strong."