Bengaluru FC are just one win away from confirming their spot in the Indian Super League (ISL) play-offs for a second year in a row. The Blues can seal qualification on Wednesday by bagging all three points at home against Kerala Blasters.
Coach Carles Cuadrat expressed his satisfaction with the team’s efforts and results but was unhappy with claims that Bengaluru have been underperforming this season, despite what the points table says.
The Spaniard said, “I have been hearing coaches say that they have been playing very well and they have played better than Bengaluru. But in the end, we have been getting points in almost all our games, except the Mumbai game. So, this means something. The players put everything in every game.”
“If you look at the league table, you will see that we have won nine games and not won just four. Goa – who are a brilliant team – have won seven games and not won seven games. NorthEast- who are fighting for a play-off spot – have won six games and not won eight games.
“A lot of people are saying that the team is not playing so well like last season. We have had a lot of foreigners’ problems and Miku’s injury and still the boys have given everything.”
The Blues roped in Luisma Villa on deadline day after Chencho Gyeltshen was sent on loan to NEROCA FC. Cuadrat feels that the midfielder perfectly fits the profile the club was looking for and will be a great addition to the team.
“We saw the market and the options we had. Luisma was the best player for the kind of work we are going to do. We have Miku and he will be in the list tomorrow. So, we have players that we can trust in that position. I feel that we have had problems in maintaining possession of the ball. With Dimas (Delgado), Xisco (Hernandez) and Miku, we are losing the ball easily Luisma is a player who can help us here,” the Spaniard stated.
“He just arrived and is training with us, so I don’t know if he will play tomorrow. It’s not easy because he just arrived. The players are doing the tactical work and he is just receiving the information, Let’s see what happens,” Cuadrat added.
The 50-year-old hailed the competitive spirit of the team while outlining his ambitions to win the league title. Cuadrat said, “One of the reasons that I am coaching this team is that they have shown that they are competitive. It is pleasure for a coach to have a team that is so competitive. We are working to become champions.”
“I have had nice memories of playing in Kochi. The fans created a nice atmosphere to play football. The things are not going well for them and when you are in that dynamic, it’s not easy. The good thing for us is that we have had a good dynamic before Christmas.
“Some of the teams like Pune, Kerala, Delhi and Chennai have not had a great season and I feel sorry for them because they have great players and great supporters.”
Although Bengaluru have been defensively stable this season, the statistics have shown that they have not been great on the offence. Cuadrat remains unperturbed by this aspect and maintained that the return of Miku will turn the tide.
The Spaniard also went on to praise his defence for their role in ensuring that the team endured a smooth journey throughout the season.
“With Miku, the stats in attack will be better. We are putting a lot of intensity in defence. I’m happy with the work done by Sunil (Chhetri) and Udanta (Singh). At the beginning, we had some problems with Nishu (Kumar) and Rahul (Bheke) as they were adjusting to maintain the line. But now all four defenders are doing well. You can see the work that we have been putting in. These guys create a lot of chances usually, but we were catching (Bartholomew) Ogbeche and (Modou) Sougou offside a lot,” Cuadrat exclaimed.
“The reason we are on top of the League is the work that we have put in, on the team as a whole. We take risks, but we know that we are taking risks. The final outcome is that we are on top of the League.”
The Spaniard also spoke about the growing rivalry between Kerala and Bengaluru ahead of the clash.
“I feel that the rivalry is great, and the atmosphere in Kerala was really nice. Their supporters were really vocal during the game, and even though they lost, after the game they gave us a good reception.
“Their supporters show a great deal of respect for Sunil, because of what he has done for Indian football and I hope to see a healthy rivalry tomorrow. These kinds of rivalries are good for the sport.”