Cuadrat: Kerala are always a top team to play against
Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2019-20 is all set to return after the international break and to get the ball rolling again, Bengaluru FC host southern rivals Kerala Blasters FC at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru on Saturday. The Blues are unbeaten so far this campaign but only managed to taste their first victory in their last outing against Chennaiyin FC after three successive draws.
At the pre-match press conference ahead of the Kerala tie, Bengaluru head coach Carles Cuadrat was asked if the international break came at the wrong time for his team and denied them the opportunity to build momentum. “I think we are working hard from the start. We may have had our first victory of the season in the last match, but we could have won any of the other three matches we drew. The calendar is what it is, there’s nothing we can do about that,” the Spaniard responded.
Bengaluru had several players out on international duty during the break – more than any other team in the league. When enquiring if fatigue and injuries to his players, who were out with the Indian national team, concerned him, Cuadrat stated, “I always try to be positive. We can look at it both ways. We can also see it as our players playing in big international matches. It can give some extra leverage as playing in big games is good for any player.”
“We are working with Rahul Bheke. He got substituted in the Oman match with a muscle problem. We are working on getting him ready for Saturday’s match,” he further informed.
Speaking of his expectations from the tie, which have traditionally been intense affairs both on and off the pitch, Cuadrat remarked, “Kerala are always a top team to play against. Of course, they will have their supporters here too and the atmosphere will be good. I am waiting for the match because it’s great for Indian football. We have nice moments playing against Kerala in Kochi in front of a full stadium and it will be the same here. It’s very good for football.”
Midfielder Erik Paartalu, who after a long injury layoff returned to the Bengaluru starting line-up in their last match against Chennaiyin to make a telling contribution in the team’s 3-0 win, echoed the coach’s sentiments about the fixture, “There are a lot of people who live in Bangalore who are from Kerala, so it adds a bit more to the rivalry. It's important for us to put on a spectacle. We want to put on a show and make sure these fans come back week in and week out because that's what's important.”
Addressing his long-awaited return, the Australian noted, “It was a nice way to reintroduce myself to Indian football. It’s always easier to return when you have good players and good support staff around you. I had a good pre-season but was unlucky to have incurred another injury just before the start of the season. It was a long time coming and am happy to be back. I want to push on from here.”
Read the Match Preview here.