‘This season will be a mental challenge’

The Monthly Calendar On His Wall Has Been Wiped Clean And Carles Cuadrat Believes That The ‘Champions’ Tag Requires His Side To Be More Focused Than Ever, Ahead Of The New Campaign…

On defending the Indian Super League title…

My message to the players and the fans is the same, that we have to take it step by step. And we have to try to reach the play-offs. If we start thinking about defending the title, then we are not in the right track. All the teams want to become champions and we have to be ready for the fight. We have to think about the first target, which is the playoffs. If you make the playoffs, you have three games to become the champion. And in those three games, anything can happen, because it’s football.

A simple booking or a penalty here can change the situation in the semi-final or the final, so we have to be focused until we get there. We have seen that in many competitions all over the world, and even in the ISL, the team that becomes champion has often struggled the following year. Maybe it’s a mental challenge. We have to keep being as competitive as we have been in the past. We have to try getting the most out of the League games and try to reach the play-offs.

On the improving scenario of football in India…

I have seen in the last four years that the players are improving and the standards for the national team are increasing. You can see that we are now competing with much stronger opponents on the continental level, where a few years ago we struggled. But now we can compete against Iran, Qatar and other teams in the AFC Competitions.

I will tell you from my experience of working with Saudi Arabia National Team that these matches and opponents are really tough to play against. I think in the last few years, the level in Indian football has been really growing especially with the ISL. But we must keep working on it to achieve our goals.

On new signing Ashique Kuruniyan…

Our initial plan is to get him back to full fitness from the injury. Once he is back, it’s going to be a new situation for him – new training methods, new tactics, new teammates, and it will take time. I’m not one of those coaches who will put pressure on players from the very first moment. We have a long season and we have to play in the AFC Cup where we are allowed only four foreigners. He is going to have his opportunities for sure, but we’ll have to take a lot of care and focus on integrating him into the squad. It’s a process and I’m sure that he can do a lot of good things for BFC.

On his learnings from a first season as Head Coach…

Whenever you do something new, you never know how it’s going to work out. Last season, I tried myself as a Head Coach where I had to work hard and take a lot of key decisions on and off the pitch. When you have to take that kind of responsibility, you have to know whether you’re going to enjoy it or not.

I’ve worked in football all my life, but never as a Head Coach. One year later, I can definitely say that I have enjoyed the experience. It was very nice to work with these players. The season had a lot of different moments, highs and lows. But even in the worst moments, we managed the situation in a way that we stuck to our philosophy and that really makes me happy.