The players got a first-hand experience at the professional level: Naushad Moosa

BFC ‘B’ Coach Discusses Recently Concluded 2nd Division Campaign, Player Pathway And Lessons Learnt From A Taxing Season…

On the experience of the playing in the 2nd Division League…

The overall experience in the 2nd Division League was great. From the first match away against Langsning FC in Shillong, to the last game against Mohammedan Sporting in Kolkata, it was a good learning experience for the boys on how to stay focused and prepare yourself for big matches. We came up against teams which were fighting for promotion to the I-League, and even though we were not going to make it to the next stage due to the rules, I’m sure the players got to learn a lot during these three months. We were up against tough teams, and there were no easy games with a lot of ups and downs.

On how the young team coped up with the demands of the season…

At the professional level there’s no space to relax, and the players got to experience this first hand. Some of our boys have played at the professional level before, while most of them didn’t. So, it was really important to have that attitude ingrained in them because that’s what is needed as you move up to the first team. While we won five of our ten games in the 2nd Division, we also suffered a few losses due to lack of concentration, and for the players, this was a lesson on the importance of staying focused right till the last minute. The 2nd Division League is one of the toughest competitions in the country, with so many teams playing back-to-back games and there’s no room for complacency. If you give your opponent a chance, they will hurt you and this is what you learn by playing in competitions like these.

On the one performance that stood out in the season…

If we look back at the way our team played in the away match against TRAU FC in Imphal, we need that kind of focus and attitude among our players. I think that was our best performance this season by far. The conditions were tough, but the way we dominated the team which eventually finished on the top, shows that we are a team with quality. We were focused and hungry and that is the key to get results at the professional level.

On leading the standings till Round 8, before dropping to second with consecutive losses in the last two games…

Once again, if we see the game against TRAU, there was this desire and hunger to get a result, and despite the tough conditions, the boys upped their game and got the three points. Our last two away games followed a big 6-1 win over Chennaiyin FC Reserves at home, and having beaten Jamshedpur FC Reserves at home as well, I could sense a bit of complacency in the team. The players weren’t fully focused and after losing in the final minutes, they realized the importance of it. These situations can’t be simulated on the training ground and that’s why it’s important for the players to play competitive games. That’s our whole idea behind the B team and in one way I’m glad that they’ve experienced these situations first-hand which will prepare them for the next season in a better way.

With Mohammedan, the incessant rains made it a very difficult surface to play on, and a one-hour delay followed in the kick off. However, it’s not an excuse, but I was happy with our performance because we dominated the Kolkata giants at their home ground, and it just shows that the boys had learnt from their mistake against Jamshedpur, so it was a positive sign. Mohammedan just got one close chance in the game and scored with it. Again, this was a learning experience for our defense as well, that even one mistake can decide the outcome of a game.

On the benefit this experience will have on the youngsters as they move up in the professional pyramid…

Most of the players we had in our team were youngsters, and out of our 22-man squad, we had seven from the U18 team at the academy. You could see the improvement in them when they went back and played in the U18 Youth League. The B team isn’t just for the academy graduates or those who are knocking on the first team door, but it’s also a platform for the talented players from our academy, which’ll aid their development as well. Even Albert Roca was present at most of our matches and followed their progress closely. His inputs helped our squad because it came in directly from the coach of the first team where these boys are eventually aiming to play.

This support from Roca motivated them further, and the fact that a lot of these boys were involved in the first team sessions throughout the season even aided their development. A few of our players were part of the AFC Cup squad and featured throughout the season in crucial games. That just goes to show the amount of faith our club has put in this project. This was our first season with the B team and I hope a few players will be a key part of the first team next season. We’re hoping to build upon this experience as a whole, and as we move into the next season, we want to take it to the next level.