We bounce off the supporters: Bengaluru FC head coach Simon Grayson
Bengaluru FC head coach Simon Grayson is determined to build on their recent victory against East Bengal FC as they prepare to face FC Goa on Wednesday.
Bengaluru FC head coach Simon Grayson is determined to build on their recent victory against East Bengal FC as they prepare to face FC Goa in the Indian Super League (ISL) at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru on Wednesday.
After suffering two defeats in their opening two matches against Kerala Blasters FC and Mohun Bagan Super Giant, both played away from home, Bengaluru FC bounced back with a thrilling win against East Bengal FC in their first home game. They are now set to host FC Goa, a team that has maintained a perfect start to the ISL 2023-24 season. Grayson acknowledges that his side is not yet at their peak in terms of fitness but is pleased with their progress.
“We’ve only played three games. We’re not to the level of January time, December time (last season), when we did not win enough games. At the moment, we’re confident in what we have done. We're happy with the result in the last home game. We're going up against a team that have won their first three games and are on top of the division,” Grayson said in the pre-match press conference.
Not a game of chance, this one! 🎰— Bengaluru FC (@bengalurufc) October 22, 2023
The Blues go up against the Gaurs on Wednesday, and your voices will be what makes the difference. Be there!
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FC Goa are among the three teams this season that have yet to face a defeat, alongside table-toppers Mohun Bagan SG and Mumbai City FC. Manolo Marquez's side has shown strength both in attack, scoring six goals, and in defence, conceding only three.
The upcoming match will also mark the return of Udanta Singh and Sandesh Jhingan to the Kanteerava, two players who played vital roles in helping Bengaluru FC reach three finals last season, as well as winning the Durand Cup. Grayson respects the opposition but remains confident in his team's chances against FC Goa.
“I think he (Manolo Marquez) has said that his team are a work in progress still as well. He’s got in new players at that football club, but he’s also taken players that have been very familiar with the ISL, whether it’s the foreign players or the Indian boys,” Grayson said.
“We have two players coming back tomorrow (on Wednesday) in Udanta and Sandesh that we know well and they know the league well. To win the first three games, he will be the first to admit that they have not played at the level he wants them to, but it's still early in the season. We're respectful of them, we know their strengths and weaknesses and we’re hopeful we can get back-to-back wins,” he added.
The Sree Kanteerava Stadium has always been a challenging venue for visiting teams to earn points. In the previous season, Bengaluru FC emerged victorious in eight of their 11 home games, which significantly contributed to their journey to the final. Grayson acknowledged the passionate fan support in Bengaluru and emphasised how it positively influences the team.
“We enjoy playing here and we like the support behind us,” Grayson revealed.
“It’s a two-way thing. We bounce off the supporters, and the players do. And we want the supporters to bounce off the performance from the players. They're going to show heart, work rate, desire and skill which will make it an enjoyable night for both the supporters and the players, no matter who we are playing.”
During the pre-match press conference, Grayson was joined by midfielder Javi Hernandez, who scored the winning goal for Bengaluru FC against East Bengal FC with a spectacular bicycle-kick. Hernandez mentioned that he was regaining full fitness and expressed optimism about maintaining his good form throughout the season.
“I picked up a small injury during pre-season but it was the hand, so I kept training with the team almost all the time. I am now getting better and fitter. I hope to keep going like this until the end of the season,” the Spaniard said.