We want to win but players' health is a priority: Bengaluru FC’s Marco Pezzaiuoli

Bengaluru FC head coach Marco Pezzaiuoli said it's important to prioritise the health of his players and stated that his team remains a close unit irrespective of the various problems it has been battling, ahead of his side’s match against FC Goa in matchday 69 of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2021-22 on Sunday at the Athletic Stadium in Bambolim, Goa.

As his team prepares for the game against FC Goa after a 11-day long gap, the German manager admitted that it will be difficult to set up a gameplan as the players have just stepped out of the quarantine period and will proceed keeping in mind the players’ health concerns.

Prior to the game against FC Goa, Pezzaiuoli spoke to the media during a pre-match press conference.

Here are the excerpts of the Bengaluru FC head coach’s press conference:

How is everybody in the bubble? And how are you looking forward to getting back with training and other things?

Our club has been very professional because after the game against Mumbai, we had some symptoms. We put every player in single rooms, had them in quarantine for ten days. We started training again, but had another case yesterday, which is strange.

The two days of training was good, because the boys were eager to go out and just be able to kick a ball. A lot of smiles on the pitch, which is also important because it's not easy. Our team for training changes too, which is also not ideal.

You don't know in the end which player will join the team because every day you are surprised to have new cases and that's why on Sunday, we know exactly who will be there in the team and then we can make the right decision, the right tactic for the game.

FC Goa haven’t had the best of runs of late, they went down against SC East Bengal in their last game. What do you expect from them in this game?

They [FC Goa] were a bit unlucky in finishing but still FC Goa is the best team in terms of ball possession in the league, but the 2-1 win against us [earlier in the season] means that we need to be prepared. We stayed 10 days in quarantine, we need to be fit as long as possible.

FC Goa have a new playing style after the new coach, they try to play offensive, they have a good mix of foreign and Indian players, but still, we are a strong team that’s why I have very much confidence in our team.

We learned from our mistakes in our last game against FC Goa, especially in set-pieces and defence. We dominated most of that game, so we'll have to take advantage of that this time around.

Tactically, as coaching staff, we have to think whether high pressing and a high intensity game is the right situation after a 10-day quarantine of the players. So, it’s more about communicating stuff to the players and reacting to situations, and maybe changing the style during the games.

Bengaluru FC have not trained for the last week and in that time, FC Goa have played a couple of games. How do you view the situation of a lack of gametime for the team?

Lack of playing time and even lack of training is not easy because it is a cause of injuries. We need to protect the players who are coming out of the Covid-19 situation, we need to make sure that they are healthy because we’ve seen in the world players who’ve had Covid-19 are having heart injuries.

Of course, we want to win in football, we want to play a good style and everything, but the first priority is to protect the players. The players will be ready when we play, they are highly motivated, they still have the Mumbai game in their minds, which we played very well.

Every day, every player has a different issue, personal problems, health issues, on field issues, but still, we are together and enjoying football. I think this too is especially important in order for us to have a good game against Goa.

With most of the matches being called off, how mentally challenging is it for you to manage this situation?

Not easy. Honestly, I was down for 1-2 days after quarantine, it was difficult for me to motivate myself. But the closer you get to the game, the sharper you feel and get the energy back, same goes with the players, that’s what I saw in the training, but we have to deal with it.

It is really difficult when the games are cancelled. For example, when a player is coming out of the 12-day quarantine, he can play football according to the league rules, but normally he cannot play because he has no heart control, he didn’t train which implies high risk of injuries. This makes no sense to put this kind of a player on the pitch. We, as a club, are very clear on this.

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