Bengaluru FC were handed their first defeat in over a year by Mumbai City on Sunday at the Mumbai Football Arena. A quick counter-attack by the hosts in the first-half carved open the Blues defence in the 1-0 defeat.
Bengaluru boss Carles Cuadrat admitted that his team was second-best and Mumbai’s plans worked perfectly for them. The Spaniard was also highly appreciative of Mumbai’s potency at counter attacks.
“I think that the two teams did have a clear plan. But in the end, Mumbai got all three points as their plan worked well. Their idea was to hit on the counter and they scored a goal in a counter-attack. We had two choices – we could either try to defend against the counter attacks or go for the game. We decided to take the risk and go for the game.”
“We put the ball into the box but we failed to score. Mumbai is a team which will sit and defend after scoring a goal and then try to hit on the counter. We could not execute our plan well and they could. It’s very hard to defend against them on the counter for 90 minutes as we know the power that they have on the counter attack,” Cuadrat said.
Bengaluru were physically inferior and it showed. Cuadrat acknowledged this and also spoke about how players like Sunil Chhetri and Udanta Singh could do with some freshening up after a demanding Asian Cup engagement.
“It’s clear that Mumbai is a more physical team. We tried to put Xisco (Hernandez) in the false nine position in the middle of the pitch and take advantage of that. But like I said, my players are not strong physically. They still give their work hard and I’m very happy. Kean (Lewis) is not the strongest player on the pitch, but he still gives his 100 per cent.
“I think that it was not the best game for Sunil (Chhetri) and Udanta (Singh) as they have been training a lot and competing in the Asian Cup and were not fresh. But we can’t do anything about it as they are important players for the National team and we want them to play as we wish the best for India. I want to put on the best show for the supporters and win the game, so I decided to play them.”
At the end of the day, the 50-year-old was happy with how the team fared in the absence of Venezuelan hit man Miku. Replacing their leading goalscorer from last season was never going to be easy but the players are grinding it out to nullify his absence.
“We know that Mumbai is a team that can defend very well. They have a lot of clean sheets and we don’t have Miku. We tried playing other players out of position to fill in that spot but it did not work. So, we had Edmund (Lalrindika) play for 10 minutes and tried to get something from him.”
“I’m happy with how we took the ball to the wings and put it inside. But some games these things work and some games it doesn’t. Today we were competitive and were fighting for the game even without Miku and Rino (Anto).”