Carles Cuadrat: We have the will and desire to retain the title

Bengaluru FC will be eyeing all three points against a bottom-placed Hyderabad FC side when they host them in the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2019-20 at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru on Thursday. The Blues are currently third in the table, just a few points off ATK FC and FC Goa, and will be eager to register the maximum from the tie in order to keep the pressure on their top spot rivals. They will, however, need to be wary of a Hyderabad side who have nothing to lose and also held them to a 1-1 draw in the reverse fixture earlier in the season.

Bengaluru head coach Carles Cuadrat, in his pre-match press conference, recalled that 1-1 draw from late November and said, “We lost two points. They were at the bottom at that moment as well. We have been seeing all season that how competitive the league is, how difficult it is to get points. You can see it game after game. We are expecting that kind of game. It will be a tough game. We are going to try for three points from the first moment.”

On a similar note, Cuadrat recognized Hyderabad’s change in playing style under new interim head coach Javier Lopez and stated, “They have changed a little bit of tactics and are trying to work in a different way compared to before. I think that the most dangerous thing for us is that all the Hyderabad players want to show everybody that they are good enough to be in the team and that they can be part of the squad next season. In the last game, they were fighting till the end and they got one point in the last moment. We are going to find something similar on Thursday.”

Despite his team being in an intense three-way battle with ATK and Goa for the top spot, the Spaniard revealed that it hardly put any extra pressure on him. “I don’t feel pressure. I have the sensation that we have four finals in front of us and we have to get as many points to try to fight for, first the top four, and second, the top position in the table and the AFC Champions League spot. At the moment, it is not in our hands because if Goa and ATK get maximum points, they are in front of us. So, it doesn’t put pressure on us. We have to think game by game.”

Finally, the 51-year-old revealed that his team’s primary target at the start of the season was to win the title for the second season running and break the trend of no team being able to retain the Hero ISL title. He said, “Our target is to arrive in the top four because we know that all the champions had problems in the following season (after they win the title). They were not consistent in their performances. So, I am happy that the boys have been working hard and we have been in the position of the top four in every round. So, it makes me confident about the work that we have been doing. We have shown everybody that we still are going to fight and try to be the first team to win the competition for consecutive seasons. We have that will and desire and we will try to get it.”

Blues midfielder Kean Lewis was also present at the media gathering. Speaking about his lack of game time this season, he said, “This year, it’s been tough to get a position, plus the position I play, we have three national team players in the team. They’ve not really had much injuries and have been consistent with performances. So, there hasn’t been any forced changes that the coach has had to make.”

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