Football returns to Kanteerava as Bengaluru FC take on Highlanders

Simon Grayson’s Men Face NorthEast United FC In Blues’ Indian Super League Opener

Bengaluru FC Head Coach Simon Grayson said his side were eager to get back out onto the pitch at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium, where they are set to take on NorthEast United FC in their opening match of the 2022-23 Indian Super League, on Saturday. The Blues, having won the Durand Cup, return to their Fortress after a gap of over two years, and Grayson said that his players and staff were as excited as anyone else, for the atmosphere that is set to welcome them.

“It’s a fantastic feeling to be back. I’ve been walking around the stadium the last few days and around Bangalore, and bumping into supporters who are excited for the start of the season. Supporters in general have been like caged animals the last few years. Now they’re going to be released into the stands to create an atmosphere with a lot of enthusiasm and noise. I’m sure they can’t wait and I know that us as a staff and players are excited to experience it,” said Grayson, speaking to the media on the eve of the game.

With the Durand Cup in the trophy cabinet, Grayson added that his side were keen to keep pushing the envelope heading into what he conceded will be a tougher challenge in the Indian Super League.

 “When I first came to Bengaluru, I made it clear that I want to win as many football matches as possible; in training, in the tournaments. The club had not been winning trophies in the last few years, even though they were used to success. It was great to win the Durand Cup, but going into the ISL it’s going to be even more competitive. We’ve got a good mixture of experienced and young players trying to make names for themselves and I’m sure they’re eager to get going,” added Grayson.

After a third place finish in the 2020-21 campaign, Saturday’s opposition NorthEast United finished tenth last year, with just three wins in the tournament. Since then, the Highlanders have recruited heavily under new Israeli Head Coach Marco Balbul, who has signed the likes of Matt Derbyshire, Jon Gaztanaga, Michael Jakubsen and Romain Philippoteaux, Aaron Evans and Sylvester Igboun, among several other Indian players.

“I think the first few games of the season are always difficult, because you don’t know much about the other teams until then. We’re going into the unknown a little bit, but NorthEast have a new manager and some talented players. We fully respect them, but everyone starts on a level playing field, with no points. We’re focusing predominantly on ourselves, on our defensive structure and offensive side of things as well. Once the season is a little older, we’ll have a clear understanding of how the opposition teams will play week in and week out,” said Grayson.

Kick-off between the Blues and NorthEast United is scheduled for 7.30 pm and will be telecast live on the STAR Sports Network, Disney+Hotstar and JioTV. Tickets to the encounter are available on PayTM

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