Carles Cuadrat: My players have a winning mentality and it’s not hard to motivate them

Bengaluru FC will be out to make their home advantage count when they host ATK FC for the first leg of their Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2019-20 semi-final clash at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru on Sunday. This will be the Blues' third successive appearance in the knock-out stages, having reached the final both in the 2017-18 and 2018-19 season.

At the pre-match press conference, Bengaluru head coach Carles Cuadrat spoke about the upcoming challenges and said, “I think that they (ATK) are a very good team. I think they prefer to give the ball to their opponents and go for the counter-attack. The semi-finals this season are very interesting because on one side, we have two offensive teams – FC Goa and Chennaiyin FC – who score a lot but at the same time concede a lot of goals, and on the other side, we have two teams – ATK and Bengaluru - who tactically work a lot on their defence. In football, the offensive part largely depends on the individual creativity of the players, but the defensive aspects depend on the players’ ability to implement the coach’s plans.”

The Spaniard also opined that past results won’t have any bearing on the game and noted, “It’s a kind of situation where games from the past won’t have any effect whatsoever. It’s a 180-minute game. We cannot think about the past few games because it’s a different situation.”

Asked if playing the first leg at home was an advantage or a disadvantage, Cuadrat noted, “We know that at home we always have the support of our fans. It was great to play the second leg at home in the last two seasons, but it doesn’t guarantee you success, as we saw in our AFC Cup tie against Maziya recently. All I can say is that this game will be decided over 180 minutes and we will try to give our best to go the final.”

He was, however, confident of a positive result. “I always back my players. I always say they have a winning mentality. For the third season in a row, we are fighting for the title when many other teams have already gone on holiday. It’s not hard to convince them to be competitive. My players know that we are three games away from another title. We don't want to punish ourselves for the bad things we did before. We need to work hard and try to qualify for the final,” he said.

Speaking about Sunil Chhetri, who scored two crucial goals in their AFC Cup playoff tie against Maziya, the 51-year-old said, “We think he might start. We think he’s ready for the game. Yes, it is true that Sunil wasn't expected to play as many minutes as he did on Wednesday, but he will be ready in time to play against ATK.”

Providing an injury update, Cuadrat informed, “The good thing is that our players are ready and we don’t have too many injuries. Apart from Semboi (Haokip) and Eugeneson (Lyngdoh), I have almost a full squad.”

Read the Match Preview here.

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