Renewed Bengaluru take on new-look FC Goa in season-opener

Slate Wiped Clean As Old Foes Lock Horns In Unfamiliar Circumstances

After months of uncertainty, relentless phases of testing, two instalments of pre-season and life in a bio-secure bubble, Bengaluru FC will finally get their Indian Super League season underway when they take on hosts FC Goa, at the Fatorda Stadium, in Margao, Goa, on Sunday. This fixture has always turned up with the goods and goals, and while the pandemic has put a spanner in the works with the way teams have gone about preparing for the season, the game promises to entertain.

When asked if he was confident of his team starting quick off the blocks, Cuadrat said it would be far from easy considering the situation leading up to the start of the season. “All the squads will try to be competitive from the first day but it takes some time, and we have to understand that. The circumstances are very different.”

While the Blues’ foreign contingent – players and staff – arrived in India in batches before undergoing their mandatory period of quarantine, the Indian players got the pre-season underway in the first week of October. “Our Indian players have been working from October 1, which means it has been around seven to eight weeks of pre-season for them already. They have been doing some very good work. With regard to foreigners, all clubs had the same issues and I guess that was out of our control. I am certain we will see better football from all teams in the next few weeks,” said Cuadrat.

“We can expect a completely different game, from normal, against FC Goa because of the circumstances. You could see in the game yesterday (between Kerala Blasters and ATK Mohun Bagan) that the teams are not in their best physical state yet. The intensity, against FC Goa, might not be the same as the one we are used to,” added the Spaniard.

In FC Goa, Bengaluru are up against a team that have had a change at the helm as well as on the pitch. Juan Ferrando has replaced fellow-Spaniard Sergio Lobera as coach of the Gaurs, and the side who finished the League stages on top last season have a fair number of new faces after an exodus of sorts that saw Mourtada Fall, Hugo Boumous, Ahmed Jahouh and Mandar Rao Dessai follow Lobera to Mumbai City FC.

The hosts will also miss the services of Ferran Corominas, but while the Spaniard’s departure has left a sizable gap to fill, FC Goa have replaced him with fellow countryman Igor Angulo, another prolific striker who will no doubt keep the Blues’ defence on its toes.

“Goa has a squad with new players and a new head coach, which means new ideas. I am sure they (FC Goa) have been studying us and they will try to add another dimension to the game from what has been happening in the previous seasons. We have to be ready for anything,” said Cuadarat.

Speaking of additions to the squad, Bengaluru have made a few themselves, especially to add teeth to the attack. Versatile Brazilian Cleiton Silva was one of Cuadrat’s first foreign signing of the new seasons, followed by Norwegian striker Kristian Opseth and defender Fran Gonzalez. Cuadrat believes the new additions will aid his side’s clinicality in front of goal.

“We were very competitive last season, challenging for trophies again. But it was not good enough. We had a good season defensively but in the attack, we missed a little sting. We did create a lot of chances but that is not enough, we have to score goals too. So we planned, scouted, and have been doing tactical training to be clinical,” said Cuadrat.

Cuadrat confirmed that he had a fully fit squad at his disposal. The game kicks off at 7.30 pm.