Carles Cuadrat: ATK will be playing their most important match in three seasons

Bengaluru FC will be looking to drive home their narrow first leg advantage and secure a place in the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2019-20 final when they travel to face ATK FC for the second leg of their semi-final clash at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata on Sunday. The defending champions won the first leg 1-0 in Bengaluru last week, but will be aware that their work is far from done.

At the pre-match press conference ahead of Sunday’s encounter, Bengaluru head coach Carles Cuadrat said, “We expect a very tough game. It’s the most important game for ATK in the last three seasons. They weren’t in the top four in the last two seasons. For us, it’s the third final in a row. We were saying some weeks ago that we have three finals.”

“We won against 2-1 against Maziya (S&RC) in the AFC Cup play off round and 1-0 against ATK in the 1st leg. But unfortunately, against Maziya, it was not enough. We will work in the third final to try and achieve our objective. We will work to go to the ATK match and make it positive for us. We tried to make it 2-0 in the last game. We had some chances. We know that we can go there and draw, and we will be in the final,” he added.

The Blues, however, will be without full back Nishu Kumar for the match due to suspension. Centre back Albert Serran is also doubtful for the tie after picking up a knock in the 1st leg. Speaking about his possible defensive woes, the Spaniard noted, “Our defence gives us a lot of consistency. The injury of Raphael (Augusto) after some games at the beginning of the season made us focus more on getting Albert (Serran) to play in every game. Last season, with Xisco (Hernandez), sometimes we put Albert, sometimes we put Xisco. We made a new record in Indian football this season. We got 10 clean sheets, which is now 11 after the first game of the semi-finals. Albert showed a lot of consistency.”

“Unfortunately, maybe we will miss him. We still have 48 hours. But for sure, we will miss Nishu (Kumar). But I trust my players. So, I hope they can do their job,” Cuadrat added.

Coming to the impact Jamaican forward Kevaughn Frater has had on the team, Cuadrat opined, “He is a great guy. He has very good skills and can improve tactically. He’s helping us a lot. Every time he has been in the game, he has created something.”

Finally, the Blues’ head coach summarized Bengaluru’s Hero ISL 2019-20 campaign so far and commented, “It has been that kind of season where circumstances have changed. We had to deal with some situations that was not happening in that way in the past, but it is part of football. The players have responded well. A lot of times last season, we were scoring in the last minutes of the game. We had that mental power. Funny things happen in football. At one time it is like this, and suddenly it is the other way. The work is the same. The players are quite similar. But you get another dynamic. You try to get solutions. The work of a coach is to try and control as many things as possible in the game. But a lot of things happen in a game. It’s really difficult to control every minute.”

Midfielder Dimas Delgado, who was also at the media briefing, said, “We know that they are one of the more powerful teams in attack, because they have two very talented strikers (Roy Krishna and David Williams), who can do a lot of good work. We have been working on this in the last two weeks. We have to sacrifice a little bit in attack. One of us has to be in front of the two centre-backs to try and negate the connection between Edu (Garcia) and one of the two strikers. You have to always help your defence.”

Read the Match Preview here.

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