Slates clean as Bengaluru begin fresh title charge at the Fortress

Carles Cuadrat Shrugs Off Pressure To Defend ISL Title As New-Look NorthEast United Come Calling At The Kanteerava

Bengaluru: Bengaluru FC coach Carles Cuadrat spoke of a clean slate as his side look set to begin a new Indian Super League campaign with a clash against NorthEast United, at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium, on Monday. While the fixture represents a repeat of last season’s semifinal, the Highlanders have seen a significant change in personnel, and Cuadrat maintains that the challenge will be fresh.

“NorthEast United will be a dangerous side and we will have to be at our best to get a positive result. It is true that we have beaten them three times at home, but the numbers and records are only there to be broken. We understand that this is a new season, with new players and new coaches in many of the teams. Past results have little meaning going into a new campaign,” said Cuadrat.

Much has changed for NorthEast since that night at the Kanteerava. The Highlanders have battled an exodus that saw coach Eelco Schattorie and striker Bartholomew Ogbeche head to Kerala Blasters, by signing Croatian Robert Jarni and Ghanaian Asamoah Gyan to replace the duo. Jarni, who has been part of three World Cups as a player, now holds the reigns at NorthEast and has had a little more than a month with his squad. And while Gyan is arguably the most high-profile signing of the league this season, the visitors have added foreign firepower in strikers Maximiliano Barreiro (Argentina) and Martin Chaves (Uruguay) and defender Kai Heerings (The Netherlands).

And while Cuadrat admitted he wouldn’t have any video footage to fall back upon when it came to analysing the opposition, the Bengaluru boss didn’t look at it as too much of an impediment. “They are a good team that has made some good signings and we can talk a lot about them. But it’s important that we focus on ourselves. We’d rather spend time preparing on our systems than spend time worrying about what they could throw at us. But like I said, they are a good team – one that will force us to be at our best on the night,” said Cuadrat.

Cuadrat, without giving too much about what his starting eleven would look like, said he was lucky to be manager at a club where a host of players can comfortably play in multiple positions. The Blues made as many as six new signings ahead of the season and it’s anyone’s guess how Cuadrat chooses to roll out his team in the opener.

“I am happy to know that I have players who can play in various positions. This gives me a lot of options, and I’ve used the pre-season to try out a few new formations and patterns. I’m positive that the new signings will gel with the system as the season progresses and we’re all really looking forward to the first game,” added Cuadrat.

The match between the Blues and NorthEast United will kick off at 7.30 pm and while telecast will be on HotStar and the Star Sports network, tickets to the clash are available on PayTM Insider.