We are not a bad team: Sunil Chhetri on Bengaluru FC
Bengaluru FC captain Sunil Chhetri believes that they are not the bad team as what the points table shows and are looking forward to apply themselves collectively ahead of their home game against Jamshedpur FC at the Sree Kanteerava stadium in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) on Saturday.
Bengaluru FC have scored only six goals so far, the joint lowest in the league. The key duo Roy Krishna and Sunil Chhetri have two goals amongst themselves. The club's all-time top goalscorer took the blame for the poor start to the season but also urged the team to improve collectively.
Chhetri addressed the media in the pre-match press conference ahead of the game against Jamshedpur FC. The captain also reflected upon the club's transition period, the league standards as a whole.
Here are the excerpts from Chhetri's Conference:
Back to back close losses, how do you motivate yourself to play against Jamshedpur FC?
Well. We are trying our best to keep our morale high. The silver lining is we are training really well. Everyone, right from my head coach to ball boy, everyone is working really, really hard. A few of the big moments in the games in the last few games haven't gone our way. And we take the ownership as players. We have to go back. The message and the information is very clear and we try to apply ourselves properly. It is not easy and you have come from not getting enough points in the last seven games, but there are a few positives that we have taken from the game that we did better against FC Goa and ATK Mohun Bagan. The hard work was to shrug off what we did against Kerala Blasters FC. And apply ourselves properly at home and that's probably what we want to do. Take one game at a time.
Only six goals in this season for Bengaluru FC. So any specific reasons you want to share why the team is not scoring enough?
Apart from me and Roy Krishna not doing what we are paid to, we take the blame collectively as a team. I am not trying to sound cliché. But it is what it is. We are working really hard on making sure that we can create as many chances as possible because sooner or later players like Udanta Singh and Javi Hernandez are going to score. The hard part right now is to be consistent because it's not easy. It's not easy when we have the firepower that we have and still we haven't converted the chances or created chances or scored goals. It's not easy. But I trust every name that I've taken and eventually we will.
The coach talks about the fine margins, so is it frustrating as a player as luck is not falling for you guys?
No, I think we did that. We initially put a little bit of onus on luck. But now we as players know it. We have been shown the videos. We have seen the matches. We have seen the important moments and a lot of us understand and believe that sometimes it's 90%. So I think it's just every one of us is in sync, going 100% is what’s going to give us the result. I'll give you a good example: when we went to Goa for the away game, we were all feeling down and it was a very difficult game, at Goa and playing against FC Goa and I watched the replay so many times, it was such a good performance. It was almost a flawless performance from so many players. They are doing what they are good at and the best part was everyone just played as what they are capable of. Xavi Hernandez played like Xavi Hernandez, Udanta (Singh) was Udanta. Sandesh (Jhingan) was Sandesh and Gurpreet (Singh Sandhu) had a good save. So we have all the arsenal, all the ingredients needed to turn up and win a football game and we try to stay calm because it's not easy where we are. We don't like it. Everyone is hurting, but it's just about going there, applying ourselves properly and doing what each one is capable of.
What is needed is not some magical stuff. It's not like, "oh, you know what. You are going to go there and do something outstanding". We just have to go there and play exactly what they are capable of, collectively. Some of the games, Some of the boys are turning up, some of the boys are making mistakes and sometimes I'm not doing it and that's why we are where we are. But again, as a gaffer said, the only silver lining is we're working really hard in training. Training has not been like, "oh. You know what, we are in ninth position and you're not winning". It is lively. People are looking forward to it. There are good challenges and everyone wants to win. So I'm hoping that we can do what we did in Goa and just turn up and apply ourselves properly because then things will change.
You have been in Bengaluru FC for nearly ten years, have been part of many successful teams like the AFC Cup team etc. Now you are in the transitional period with young players. How different is the whole dynamics in the team?
The difference is not much. In terms of the kind of quality we had previously when we were really successful and now. We are a top team, the moment we finished the Durand Cup and when he came over here and I told that, look at the firepower we have, you won't doubt that you wouldn't say that after nine games me and Roy Krishna will have only two goals. You know what I mean, and I'm not trying to blame myself or Roy Krishna but just as a team collectively. So we have everything, look at our team and I always sit back and I look at the dressing room and I see the team and the way we train, we are not a bad team. It is just that we are not picking at the right place, at the right time collectively. And that's probably worth frustrating him(coach) and everyone at the club.
Because, when we see the team and we see the way we train, if we don't answer to blame, we don't deserve to be where we are and it's only on to us to change things and the good part from our senior management, from the coaches is just take one game at a time. Do not put yourself under pressure. Do not think about all the combination and permutation, which is just going to bog it down. Think about one game, apply ourselves properly and do simple stuff. Coach always keeps screaming : just do simple stuff. Do what you're good at, do simple things and things will happen.
Top six teams will play in the playoffs. Does that give you more hope this time?
I'm trying not to and the team is trying not to think about all this because that's what the key things are day in and day out. We are just trying to do whatever is told to us in a synchronized manner against Jamshedpur FC and then we'll see where we are because we did what he said and it just puts a lot of pressure on you. So just think about one game at home against Jamshedpur FC and try and get three points.
We talked about the team getting punished for some simple mistakes. Do you think Hero ISL as a league has improved?
I think so. It's more competitive. I think the league now is a little bit faster. They've been better than (before) what I think it's a progressive change. And it's a good one. We are at the bad end of it. But yes, as generally as a spectator, I can tell you that, yes, it's improving.