Cuadrat: The clean sheets make us strong

Bengaluru FC earned a narrow 1-0 win against Odisha FC at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex Stadium in Pune on Wednesday. Juanan’s 36th minute goal and brilliant work in between the sticks by Gurpreet Singh Sandhu helped Bengaluru to the top of the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2019-20 points table.  

Speaking at the post-match press conference, Bengaluru FC’s head coach Carles Cuadrat lauded his team’s strong defensive mentality. He said, “It (The clean sheets) makes us strong. Football is a game of mentality. For us it’s good, it’s good that we have conceded only two goals. It’s something that we are building for the future because this is a very tough league. Our aim is to reach the playoffs and the four points that we lost against Goa and Hyderabad; nobody is going to give (them back to) us. So, we need to get those points back under any circumstances. I’m happy with the work of the players.”

Key to their defensive form was India’s national team custodian Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, whose six saves earned him the Hero of the Match award. However, the Spanish coach believes that his team’s work rate is pivotal to their defensive solidity. Cuadrat said, “Gurpreet is having a great season. He has just conceded two goals and has made some good saves. But it’s not only him, I think we are a very compact team and we don’t give a lot of options to forwards of the other team to score.”

“Against Coro (Ferran Corominas), we only gave a penalty and we’ve played against Marcelinho (Marcelo Pereira), and today we faced Xisco (Hernandez) and Aridane (Santana) who have scored seven goals together, but today they did not score any goals. Week after week we are doing good defensive work,” he said.

The victory took Bengaluru to the top of the league but Cuadrat seemed content with finally winning away from home, while also downplaying their position in the standings. “Top of the table is just a momentary thing because the other teams are yet to play but it was very good to break the run we were having away from home. It’s been a long time since we won away from home. We have conceded two goals in extra time (this season). That is four points lost.”

The Spaniard continued, “My work today was to talk to the players and tell them to be mentally strong. To try and get the points because it’s hard if a team losses points three times (late in the game). So, we are working on a 5-4-1 system, and I am happy that it works. It was a game where there were opportunities for both the teams. I have to congratulate Odisha because they played a very good game.”

“It’s very important to break the dynamic (of conceding equalisers late in away games). Because it’s not only about three draws, it’s about three away draws in the last moment of the game. It creates something in your mind and as a player you are hoping that the game doesn’t always finish in such a tense manner. So, it was important to break that dynamic,” the 52-year-old coach added.

Read the Match Report here.

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