Pezzaiuoli urges Bengaluru FC not to look back ahead of AFC Cup preliminary Round 2 clash

Former Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) champions Bengaluru FC will be looking to qualify for the playoffs of the AFC Cup when they face Nepal-based outfit Tribhuvan Army FC in their Preliminary Round 2 clash at the GMC Stadium in Bambolim in Goa on Wednesday.

The Blues’ clash against Tribhuvan Army FC will be their first competitive match under new head coach Marco Pezzaiuoli and the 52-year-old revealed that the Bengaluru FC squad is in high spirits ahead of the encounter. “The mood is very good. We hadn’t had an easy time because of COVID-19.  Now for the AFC Cup, team spirit is good, very good. I think we are very well-prepared for the first game,” he told the media at the pre-match press conference.

Pezzaiuoli urged his players to put their underwhelming Hero ISL 2020-21 campaign behind them having finished seventh and instead wants them to focus on the task at hand. “The most important thing in life is not to look back, always look forward. You can see the glass as half full or half empty. For me, it’s half full and that’s why I am very positive. I have seen the team, the players have a great spirit. [They are] a very hard-working bunch. I think they want to leave the [2020-21] season behind them. I have also told them that we are starting at zero and preparing for the AFC Cup. That is a different tournament,” the Italian born in Germany said.

He also had words of encouragement for the youngsters in Bengaluru FC’s squad. “The youngsters are very good. They are working hard. We had some difficult time earlier because of the COVID-19 situation. They didn’t train for 10-14 days. Also, the national team players were not with us [because of Oman and UAE friendlies in Dubai]. But I see the young players developing every day. Every day they are working very hard, and they are really close to the starting XI,” Pezzaiuoli said.

While assessing the Blues’ opponents Tribhuvan Army FC, Pezzaiuoli added: “They are quick, they are fast, they are good on the ball. They are focused on counter-attacks …We need to have a high tempo in the game. I think that is one important part.”

Pezzaiuoli was joined at the pre-match press conference by Bengaluru FC’s custodian Gurpreet Singh Sandhu and the Indian shot-stopper touched on his team’s preparations. “I think it’s very important for the team, especially after the break, to get physically ready and then also with time to get practically ready,” he said.

“I think our head coach has done a very good job. Everyone feels good, they feel confident and fresh as well. Everyone is happy and everyone is raring to go in the AFC Cup campaign. With the club’s history, it is a very important tournament for us. It’s important to have a good start as well,” Gurpreet added.

He also admitted that they are looking to go further in the AFC Cup than they did last season when they were eliminated in the preliminary stage of the competition. “Obviously, last year was disappointing for us. Because we have been to the knockout stages, to the group stages. So, for us it is important to continue doing that. If we reach the group stage and the knockout stage on a regular basis that means we are doing something really well. To not be able to do that last year was a big blow to us. I promised myself and the players that were involved as well, that if we get a chance again then we will make sure that we don’t repeat the mistakes that we made last year,” Gurpreet said with a lot of conviction.

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