Marco Pezzaiuoli Stresses The Importance Of Sticking To Basics And Staying Sharp As Blues Look To Stay In Race For Play-Off Spot
Marco Pezzaiuoli called for his side to stay focused and stick to the basics – an attribute he credits for Bengaluru FC’s remarkable turnaround of their season – when they take on NorthEast United, at the JN Stadium, in Fatorda, on Friday. With just four games to play in the League stage, the Blues are in sixth position on the points table, and are within touching distance of a play-off spot.
Bengaluru saw a nine-game unbeaten run halted with a 2-1 defeat to League-leaders Hyderabad FC last week, and Pezzaiuoli said if his side played to its strengths, they could get the job done on the night. “After the defeat to Hyderabad, we spoke about why were unbeaten in nine games. We’ve got to come back to base, focus on our strong points and make sure we don’t let NorthEast United play football. If we do that, we are a hard team to beat.”
While Pezzaiuoli’s men are in the race for a place in the semifinal, Khalid Jamil’s NorthEast are languishing at the bottom of the table, having won just two games in 17. But the Bengaluru manager indicated he was wary of the threat that an opponent who has nothing to lose, possesses. “We beat NorthEast United 4-2 in our season-opener. But this isn’t the same team. They’ve brought in new foreigners in the January window and they are a good team offensively. They are not where they would like to be on the table, but will definitely want to finish the season in the best possible way. We will need to show more personality on the pitch and will need more leaders,” said Pezzaiuoli.
With the season seeing one of the tightest finishes to the league stages, Pezzaiuoli is clear that his side will focus on doing what lies in their hands. “We cannot influence the results of the other games. We have always taken this season one game at a time, and that doesn’t change now.”
Bengaluru FC will be without defender Naorem Roshan who is suspended for the game. And with Ashique Kuruniyan still recovering from an injury, Pezzaiuoli said he will take a call on who slots into the left-back position. “We have injuries and suspensions, but I’m not one to speak about players who are unavailable. I have a squad of good players and will go with an option that suits us the best.” Midfielders Jayesh Rane and Rohit Kumar who are nursing injuries, are also unavailable.
NorthEast, who are yet to win in ten games, roped in experienced Brazilian Marcelinho, winger Marco Sahanek and defender Zakaria Diallo in the January window in a bid to change the club’s fortunes. And while that hasn’t exactly gone to plan, Jamil will be hoping the experienced names play their part to help NorthEast end the season, as high as they possibly can when it comes to the table.