Bengaluru, Hyderabad set to face off at the Tilak Maidan

Naushad Moosa Expects Tough Contest As Blues Look To Stay In Playoffs Race

Interim Head Coach Naushad Moosa says he expects a tough fixture as his Blues side ready to face Hyderabad FC at the Tilak Maidan Stadium, in Goa, on Thursday. Bengaluru have yet to record a win this calendar year, ahead of Thursday’s fixture, which pits them against a Hyderabad side that currently occupy the final playoffs spot in the table, four points ahead of them.

“Hyderabad are playing well right now, have a strong press when they lose the ball and also move possession between the lines to good effect. We have been working on not just stopping them but also to make use of the space that they leave behind. They are a good team and the way the table stands right now, it is important for us to go all out and get the three points. We can’t sit back and wait, we have to play with an attacking mindset.”

Bengaluru’s last win was against Odisha FC in mid-December and the Blues have failed to win a game under Moosa so far, something the coach and the players are eager to change. “As a coach, I would definitely love to have three points from every game. At the same time, I also need to understand the dynamics of the players because they are the ones performing on the pitch. They are more desperate than me to get a win. They are fighting hard and giving their best till the final whistle in every game.”

Moosa’s time in charge has seen several youngsters introduced to the playing squad, something Moosa believes bodes well for the future. “We are trying to find a balance between experience and youth, that’s all. We haven’t given up on the playoffs. We are trying to give the youngsters more time, preparing for next year. But we also need to make sure we have a balanced side on the pitch and do well this season. They need to get an understanding of the level of the League.”

Goals have been a premium for the Blues this season, despite the side not lacking in chances and Moosa acknowledged the issue. “Finishing has been a concern throughout the season and we have been focusing on that in training. We are doing a lot more finishing drills every day. We are staying positive and hopefully, by the next game we should be able to find the back of the net.”

While Xisco Hernandez remains in mandatory quarantine till February 2, Harmanjot Khabra is back in training having missed the last two games with a hamstring injury. “Khabra had light sessions the last two days, nothing too intense. We will take a call on him after the final training. He is fit but we will take a cautious approach with him, we do not want to rush him back and then lose him in the long term. He’s an important player for us.”

Kick off between Hyderabad FC and the Blues is scheduled for 7.30 pm on Thursday, and will be telecast live on the STAR Sports Network, Hotstar and Jio TV.

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