Cuadrat hails players' commitment, Chhetri reveals cheeky set-piece secret
Second time’s the charm for Bengaluru FC. After losing out in the 2017-18 final, Bengaluru redeemed themselves in this season's grand finale after beating FC Goa 1-0 at the Mumbai Football Arena on Sunday. A late goal from Rahul Bheke in the second period of Extra Time ensured the victory for the Blues after a goalless 90 minutes. Despite the abundance of attacking players on show, it was the defenders that proved their mettle in what proved to be a closely-fought affair. Goa's Ahmed Jahouh received his marching orders in Extra Time for a second bookable offence.
At the post-match press conference, Bengaluru head coach Carles Cuadrat and captain Sunil Chhetri were present to share their thoughts on the match. Talking about the side’s defensive performance, Cuadrat said, "It was a risky decision to play with that defence because Albert Serran had been central for us. He has done a lot for us. So, the rest of the guys have been learning a lot from him. I have to be very proud of the Indian players especially Nishu Kumar, Rahul Bheke and Harmanjot Khabra. We decided to go for an offensive game. We have to be very happy."
Picking up on the gaffer's point, Chhetri mentioned, "We made sure that the attacking players come back and defend. And we had to do it against a team like Goa. That was the message from the coach - always try to attack but as soon as we lose the ball, we come back to defend and make sure that we had the numbers. It was so not that easy, but I am really glad we did it."
Cuadrat also took the opportunity to praise FC Goa for a splendid season and highlighted their strengths. "Well, Goa are a fantastic team and they have a very good defence. I remember how many clean sheets they have been getting in the last few games. So, it is normal that they are doing their job and they tried to prevent us from scoring. We were trying to stay safe at the back. I am happy that we got the goal in the end before penalties," the Spaniard said.
He then shed some light on the faith the players had put in him since the start of the season, which he claimed, was a huge factor behind their success. "I think that we have a deal with the players. It was clear from the first moment. I am the coach of Bengaluru because they have the feeling that I can do things in the right way. So, when Albert Roca decided not to work because of the family issue, the players said that Carles can do the job. From the first day, I have been demanding a lot from them," he remarked.
The all-important goal on the night came from a set-piece - something Bengaluru have excelled at throughout the season. Asked about the trend, Chhetri revealed a little secret behind the team's set-piece preparations for each match. "We worked really hard with Carles. We have only conceded one goal from set-pieces and there are charts in the bathroom before we go into each match. We have to stand there for 20 minutes and look at it, because every free kick, every corner has a different sign. Going forward and defensively we have been very strong from set-pieces and it is not by chance that we have won the game through a set-piece," he said.
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