The mentality of our players has been great in difficult times: Bengaluru FC’s Marco Pezzaiuoli

Bengaluru FC head coach Marco Pezzaiuoli held his players and staff members in high esteem for sticking together through troublesome times as the club battles Covid-19 crisis coupled with injury concerns amidst preparations for their next game.

The Blues face arch-rivals Chennaiyin FC in matchday 72 of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2021-22 season on Wednesday at the Athletic Stadium in Bambolim, Goa. Pezzaiuoli has immense faith in them to deliver their best performance on Wednesday despite the squad facing challenging times.

The German gaffer admitted that it’s not easy managing the squad and playing them with the same intensity as the previous games but is optimistic of the team’s mentality throughout the season which will play a key factor in the game against Chennaiyin FC.

Ahead of the clash against Chennaiyin FC, Pezzaiuoli addressed the media during a pre-match press conference.

Here are the excerpts from the coach’s press conference:

Having coaching experience in several different leagues, how challenging is this time in the bubble with all the unpredictability and availability of the players, and not being able to train?

This season has been a challenge. But I think our mentality as a team has been really great, I think we saw that against Goa, but not only that game, but throughout the season. We pressed hard, created chances, and we have a strong character and personality. As a coach, this has been great for me because this team is hungry and the players who are not in the squad are hungry to get the points, the players who are injured, they’re hungry for points.

In the difficulty of the bubble, we’re trying to help each other in every certain situation. It’s up and down mentally, but we’re together, we’re going on the pitch, we are happy, we’re focused. I don't know if we have 20 or 16 players available for the next game. Some of them will come out of quarantine on matchday, but what I know is that they will give their best. As a coach, I have huge respect for the players because of the way they have played and also the staff members, they’re doing a great job right now.

What do you expect from the matchup against Chennaiyin FC this time around?

I think they want to beat us to stay in the top four, and we want to take the next step which is to get the three points. 90 minutes will be difficult against a team who is organized in the defence, compact in the centre of the midfield, and very good in the transition. Especially in transition, they’re getting a lot of players in the offense.

They are pressing a bit higher than before and they’re switching formations. Last time they played a 3-5-2, they also play 4-3-3 or a 4-4-2. But we are prepared, and this won’t be an issue for us. They got a new striker as well, I think they have all five foreigners available to them, which I think is an advantage for them, because we don't have all our foreigners available.

But I believe in our squad. Last game we had four Indian defenders, they performed really well, and we have enough quality players to beat Chennaiyin FC.

What is the situation in the camp right now after the last game?

Firstly, I think it was a good game. We started well, the first 30 minutes. We were not comfortable with the ball as after 30 minutes we lost the ball too easily and quickly in the centre of the midfield which allowed Goa to push up after a point in the game. In the second half, we had enough chances with Roshan [Naorem] and Sunil [Chhetri] to score goals and win the game.

We deserved to win the game as we were the better team. We played against a quality Goa team who have enough ball possession with around 500 passes in the match. I was not happy with the way we defended the set-pieces, and for me, that was the reason we dropped the two points.

As you said there are a lot of outside factors affecting the game. How difficult is it for you to focus on the footballing part of it and keep your head in that in these circumstances?

It’s not easy but you know, we are professional football players and coaching staff, we need to put out the lights, what is right and left, and focus. We are preparing for the game, how we want to play, how to have more options for the game. The players who are in the squad know exactly what we want to do. We stick to our principles.

There can be some change in the tactics. For example, we had three days after the Goa game which means we have 12 days almost in quarantine and less days in training. Maybe we cannot go back to the intensity, maybe we drop more back and make more transition encounters because we cannot go with the same intensity we had against Goa.

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