Former champions begin pre-season in preparation for tough 2020-21 Hero ISL season

With the start of the 2020-21 Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) season getting closer by the day, former champions Bengaluru FC are set to become the first team to begin pre-season training at their residential academy in Bellary. As many as 20 first team players and nine reserve players travelled to the Inspire Institute of Sport in Bellary on Sunday after three rounds of testing in Bengaluru, and will start their pre-season training sessions following a four-day quarantine and another round of testing.

“We are not in the most ideal of situations, but our work at the club doesn’t stop. We have been in touch with the players and coaches on what we expect from them. Their strength and conditioning work began in June and they have been handed programmes down to the detail for every aspect,” said head coach Carles Cuadrat, who is currently in Spain.

These sessions will be conducted by their first team’s Indian assistant coach Naushad Moosa and the Indian coaching staff, who are in constant touch with head coach Carles Cuadrat and his staff back in Spain. The pre-season also gives the club a chance to assess the nine reserve players who have accompanied the team to Bellary.

With that in mind, Cuadrat and his team in Spain have been in contact with their coaching staff in India. “I have been in touch with the management with regard to scouting for players, arranging pre-season games and all other aspects of the season. Importantly, we are working every day to ensure that we can join the team as soon as possible,” Cuadrat explained.

The Inspire Institute of Sport where the club will be staying before travelling to Goa for the season, also houses a residential school for Bengaluru’s academy which was accredited a Two-Star Academy Status by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) in July. CEO of Bengaluru FC Mr. Mandar Tamhane shared the benefits of training at one of their world class youth facilities.

“Speaking about advantages, we’re making the most of our world-class facilities at the Inspire Institute of Sport in Bellary. The moment we received an indication from the league about the season beginning in the third week of November, we went about planning to ensure our pre-season begins on time,” he said.

Mr. Mandar also felt that having Indian assistant coach Moosa with the team is beneficial for the Blues, he said, “This is Naushad Moosa’s fourth season with the club and that’s a big advantage. We would have liked to begin our pre-season with a complete team – that includes foreign staff and players, but given the situation with visas and travel, this was a hurdle we saw coming and had planned for it in advance.”

Meanwhile, the 2020 AIFF Men’s footballer of the Year, goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu sounded enthusiastic about the upcoming season, having spent a majority of the lockdown in Australia. “As players, we’ve been impatient and excited to train together and you can feel the energy among the boys in Bellary,” Gurpreet said.

“We’ve all been training independently for too long now and were waiting to begin our pre-season. I’ve been lucky that I had Erik (Paartalu) to train with every single day while I was in Australia, but to be able to do a session with most of the team, is something else. I cannot wait for the rest of the boys and the coaching staff to join us soon,” the Indian custodian added.

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