Bengaluru FC head coach Simon Grayson felt mistakes cost his side as the Blues went 2-1 to Kerala Blasters FC in the opening match of the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, in Kochi, on Thursday.

The first half was an intense battle, with both teams locked in a tight contest. However, in the 52nd minute, the home side took the lead thanks to an own goal by Keziah Veendorp. Kerala Blasters FC's captain, Adrian Luna, capitalized on a mistake by Bengaluru FC's captain, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, extending the lead to 2-0 for his team. Curtis Main managed to score a goal for Bengaluru FC in the 90th minute, but it was too late for the Blues to salvage a point from the match.

Grayson believes that his players gave the ball away too cheaply to their opponents. He acknowledged that it was only the first game of the season and believed that they needed more time to find their rhythm in competitive games.

“I don't think any team will be 100% ready for the first game of the season because you are still getting up to the tempo of a really competitive game. Pre-season games can serve a purpose but when you are going in amongst a big crowd in the first game of the season, I always feel, anywhere I have coached, that the first few games take a little bit of bedding in,” Grayson said in the post-match press conference.

“But, saying that, we know we have got to be better. We started the game poorly, and gave the ball away far too cheaply, which is something we have worked on a lot over the pre-season weeks. But, saying that, Kerala Blasters FC didn't create too many chances in the first half, it was a bit of a non-entity, and both goalkeepers hardly had a save to make. Then we started the second half poorly again, gave the ball away, and gave them the lift, we obviously had to change the personnel system. Then we make a big mistake for the second goal and that makes it really difficult,” he added.

“But, credit to the players who kept going and we asked lots of questions. If the game had gone on a little bit longer we might have been able to get an equalizer but we know we have got to be better in possession because we kept it at times but in the wrong areas where it really matters in the middle of the pitch, the top end of the pitch, we give it away a bit too cheaply,” Grayson continued.

Bengaluru FC began the game with two of their main attacking forces, Javi Hernandez and Curtis Main, on the bench. The Englishman commented on their placement on the bench and underscored how the absence of key players like Halicharan Narzary, restricted their options in the forward positions.

“I think if you look at us today, we had quite a young squad today with Javi (Hernandez) and Curtis (Main) not having a lot of game time over pre-season so they were missed and only 30 minutes was about the maximum we could play them. So, the top end of the pitch where we needed to get better, we probably didn't have our best players or some good players available,” mentioned the BFC head coach.

The first goal that Bengaluru FC conceded was unfortunate, as the ball struck Veendorp and went directly into their net. However, the error made by Sandhu for the second goal proved extremely costly for the team, which was entirely unexpected for a player of his calibre.

“I think he is bold enough and experienced enough and wise enough to know that he made a mistake and goalkeepers when they make a mistake they get punished a lot and it puts us on the back foot. It's a big mistake so there is no hiding away from it and Gurpreet would be the first to admit that. All you do now is you learn from any mistakes whether it's an outfield player or a goalkeeper and you make sure you don't do it again. I would be 99% certain that if that ball goes back to him in the next game it will go further forward than it did tonight,” Grayson stated.