Good evening everyone,
Before we get down to talking about today’s game, I want to wish all of you the happiest possible New Year. The one gone by has been tough for all of us, but if you are reading this, then you have much to be grateful about. The new year always brings with it new possibilities and I hope we all make the most of the positives that 2021 will bring with it.
Coming to this evening, we are up against a very formidable Mumbai City FC team who have rebuilt strongly ahead of this season and are doing things correctly to find themselves in the race for the top spot on the table. After starting their season with a defeat to NorthEast United, they have bounced back and kept the momentum going, and needless to say, we are faced with a difficult challenge of bringing a halt to their run.
As for us, we come into this game on the back of consecutive defeats to ATK Mohun Bagan and Jamshedpur FC - both by a solitary goal - and the onus is on us to find a positive response. I keep saying, football is about dynamics, and you can never tell when a change is around the corner. The important thing is to keep believing in the plan and the ability of the team, and to keep chipping away in the right direction.
The team has been working hard in training all week and we hope to translate that on the pitch tonight. We will be without a key player in Erik Paartalu who misses the game with suspension, but I look at this as an opportunity for someone else to come in and fill the void seamlessly. Mumbai have quality on every area of the pitch and even on the bench, and we cannot afford to let our concentration waver even for a second. Sergio Lobera and I have had many memorable games with our teams when he was at FC Goa and I believe that this one too will be an intriguing clash that will entertain.
On news outside the pitch, we have been in touch with Ashique who is getting better with every passing day. Our strength and condition and medical team have devised a detailed plan that has been shared with him to aid his recovery in the best possible way.
The perfect possible start to the year will be with three points tonight and we will be committed completely to making that happen. Like always, we want you to march and battle with us!
The Blues host Mumbai City FC at the Fatorda in what will be the first game of the new year for Carles Cuadrat’s men. The Islanders sit second on the standings, one point behind ATK Mohun Bagan with a game in hand. Bengaluru come into this game following back-to-back defeats and will be looking to stop the rot on the form guide. Here are three points to keep an eye out for tonight:
ATTACK vs DEFENCE
While the Blues and tonight’s visitors have the second best attack in the league, the crucial difference comes at the other end. Mumbai City have the tightest defence while Bengaluru have conceded almost as many as they have scored. With the Blues’ attack coming up short in the last two games, Carles Cuadrat will have to find ways to make them tick going forward while solidifying his backline against a team that needs very few chances to find the back of the net.
STAY IN STYLE OR NOT?
Behind FC Goa, Mumbai City and Bengaluru FC have played the most passes in the League. Both teams like to be in control of the game, dictating the pace and thereby giving their opposition very few chances to attack. That is also the reason why both teams are near the bottom of the table when it comes to fouls committed or tackles made. Who will tweak their style tonight? Which coach will adapt to the opposition and find other ways of making a mark at the Fatorda? It promises to be an intriguing battle.
THE MIDFIELD FIGHT
In Rowllin Borges, Ahmed Jahouh and Hugo Boumous, Sergio Lobera has a trio of players that perfectly complement each other. The eye for a pass, technical quality, the guile to use tactical fouls when needed and the passing ranges that can beat the best of defences. The Blues have a huge battle in the middle of the park tonight and winning or losing it could end up dictating the outcome of tonight’s fixture.
Adam le Fondre
Adam le Fondre had a good career across the English leagues before moving to Australia, where he finished as the A-League’s second highest goalscorer last season. He joined Mumbai City FC in the summer, and has met the Islanders’ expectations so far. He is their top scorer with five goals and has also taken the most shots on target (7). His movement, passing and technical ability has seen him become the first-choice striker for Lobera’s side, limiting Bartholomew Ogbeche’s role to a substitute.
The Moroccan has committed the most fouls for Mumbai City FC, is their second best passer and has had the second most touches in the team. He also has made the second highest tackles (51) in the league.
The fluidity and style that Sergio Lobera likes his teams to play with rests on Ahmed Jahouh’s multi-functional role in midfield. He’ll be looking to disrupt the Blues’ rhythm tonight while also stepping in to help his side move forward with pace when in possession.
The only player in the League to ever register goals and assists in double digits has started the season as well as he can, leading the assists chart from the get go with five already this season. While he played just behind the striker at FC Goa, helping him score as many as he assisted, at Mumbai City he has been given a more free role with Le Fondre and co. in charge of converting the chances.
Frenchman Boumous likes to drift between lines to get rid of his markers, draws defenders out of position to make space for his teammates and has the vision to find a pass that can embarrass even the best defences in the country. The Blues will have to be on their toes tonight.
Every last magical drop
They Call Him El Mago, But Even Dimas Delgado Knows No Potion That Can Bring The Years Back To Him. By His Own Admission, Life As A Footballer Is Slowly Ebbing Away From Him. But The Spaniard Says That Every Last Drop Of Football Left In Him Will Be Squeezed Out Before His Boots Get One Final Wash…
It was a routine that he had mastered and perfected. As the ball rolled towards him, Dimas Delgado’s body would switch towards the direction where a predetermined next pass would go. Except, this time it was different. In planting his right boot on the grass, Delgado pulled up with an injury to a muscle in his thigh. The Blues were scheduled to begin their Indian Super League campaign less than two weeks later.
“I was changing directions when I pulled up. The recovery was slow, but I’m glad to have had a spectacular medical team around me. When I came back to the pitch for training, it was involuntary that I tried to avoid that action again. Slowly, I felt better, but every time my mind told me to make that move, I would remember the injury and sometimes avoid it. We had been cautious about not rushing back to the field, which meant I couldn’t start the first two games.”
Wearing a brace to support his right thigh, Delgado took part in several individual sessions with Head Physiotherapist Senen Alvarez before joining the squad for full training. However, the brace around his thigh remained. “I joined full training and felt nothing for a few days. It seemed like the injury was gone, but in my mind, I always felt it was the brace that was holding it together. One day before training, I went to Senen to get taped and forgot my brace on the table. When I finished training, my first thought was to remove the brace and it wasn’t there. Senen told me I’d left it behind and that was a big step for me because sometimes the power of the mind is so strong that it stops you from feeling free. You might be fit, but your mind will tell you otherwise.”
The Blues were a different team with their no. 14 on the pitch, going on to claim their first win of the season against Chennaiyin FC in Bambolim. Having returned to full fitness, Delgado says he is now enjoying his football as much as he ever has. “When you get older, you begin to realise that the time you have left to play football as a professional at the highest level is close to the end. The life of an athlete is not too long, but the most important thing is the way you feel about yourself. I have no date in my mind that I’ve decided I will be done. But it’s always getting closer. Sometimes the factors are your body and your injuries. But it’s also sometimes about being away from your loved ones, missing the special moments in your child’s life. Ours is a fantastic and beautiful game. As professional footballers, we only have to do what we love. But behind all that you see on TV are sacrifices that hurt you sometimes. But this is the life we chose; it’s a life we fought for.”
While he admits the sacrifices are many, Delgado says the sport he fell in love with gives him the same level of excitement as it did when he was a little child in Gramanet. “Even today, I feel a little nervous stepping out onto the field and before the referee blows his whistle. That’s what tells me that I want to keep playing. I remember coming to India for this season. I was at the airport saying goodbye to my family. It was a hard moment for me and them, but the minute I had the boarding pass, I was excited and feeling like a footballer again. I was looking forward to having the opportunity to train again, to share a dressing room with my teammates and to have a ball at my feet. I’ve been doing it for 19 years, but every pre-match routine, every meeting, every trip to the stadium, I’m living these moments with the same passion that I always have.”
But even as he explains to us in carefully measured words about how much he loves the sport, we’re afraid to bring him back to reality and to remind him that one day it will be over. What, then, lies ahead for Dimas Delgado? “I can’t speak for others, but I think most footballers spend their entire lives thinking about football. For some of us, it’s the only thing we know. I’m the kind of person who wants to enjoy as much as I can, and I want to squeeze every last drop of football I have left inside me. But, even after that, I don’t think I can just stop playing and be done with the sport. Simply because I don’t see myself doing something else. I believe I can impart some of what I’ve learned to younger footballers, and coaching is something that has crossed my mind. When I was younger, I watched the seniors and learned from them. I want to take up that role. I want to be able to give back to football what it gave me.”
Despite a slow start to his season, Delgado has been a focal point for the Blues’ style of play, anchoring Cuadrat’s midfield with a panache that very few midfielders possess. It is a role that he has relished since joining the club in 2017. “When I came to India, Albert and Carles were two coaches who knew me and they were clear about the part they wanted me to play at this club. I had their support and as a player half the battle was won right there. Since the day I joined, I have been able to express myself on the pitch and that has been magnificent for me.”
Since making his debut for the Blues in the 2017 AFC Cup, Dimas has featured over 70 times for the Blues, scoring four goals and assisting over a dozen more across competitions. He hasn’t called time on this chapter just yet and hasn’t ruled out another one afterwards, but Delgado says that his time at BFC is one he will look back on with great fondness. “Moving to Bengaluru FC is one of the best decisions I have ever made in my career. Everything I’ve experienced here has been great. I feel at home, really. I’m not just saying that, because I had offers to move to other clubs. But it never made sense. I have everything I need right here. Having been shown so much love and respect, I am thankful. I know that one day I will have to leave, but I feel I owe this team something for all that it has given me and that’s why I’m still here. And as long as I’m still here, I’ll be giving everything I have.”
"ನಾನು ಪಡೆಯುವ ಅವಕಾಶಗಳು ಒಂದು ಜವಾಬ್ದಾರಿ"
ಅಕಾಡೆಮಿಯ ಲಿಯಾನ್ ಅಗಸ್ಟೀನ್ ಈ ಆವೃತ್ತಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ಅವಕಾಶ ಪಡೆದುಕೊಳ್ಳುತ್ತಿದ್ದು, ಅವುಗಳ ಸದುಪಯೋಗ ಪಡಿಸಿಕೊಳ್ಳುವ ತವಕ ವ್ಯಕ್ತಪಡಿಸಿರುವ ಸಂಭಾಷಣೆ ನಿಮ್ಮ ಮುಂದೆ..
ಪ್ರಸ್ತುತ ಆವೃತ್ತಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ನಿಮ್ಮ ಸಾಧನೆ ಮತ್ತು ಪಾತ್ರವನ್ನು ನೀವು ಹೇಗೆ ವಿವರಿಸುತ್ತೀರಿ?
ಪಂದ್ಯಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಬೆಂಚ್ನಿಂದ ಹೊರಬಂದು ಆಡುತ್ತಿರುವುದು ನನಗೆ ಸಂತೋಷವಾಗಿದೆ. ನಾನು ಅದನ್ನು ನಿರೀಕ್ಷಿಸುತ್ತಿರಲಿಲ್ಲ. ಆದರೆ ನಾನು, ತಂಡ ಮತ್ತು ಆಡುವ 11ರ ಬಳಗದ ಭಾಗವಾಗಲು ಆವೃತ್ತಿಪೂರ್ವ ಅಭ್ಯಾಸದ ದಿನಗಳಿಂದಲೂ ನನ್ನನ್ನು ಸಿದ್ಧಪಡಿಸಿಕೊಳ್ಳುತ್ತಿದ್ದೆ. ನಾನು ಇಲ್ಲಿಯವರೆಗೆ ಎಲ್ಲಾ ಪಂದ್ಯಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ತಂಡದ ಭಾಗವಾಗಿದ್ದೇನೆ, ಆದರೆ ಕಳೆದ ಆವೃತ್ತಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ಇದು ಕೇವಲ ಮೂರು ಬಾರಿ ಮಾತ್ರ ಸಾಧ್ಯವಾಗಿತ್ತು. ಈ ಆವೃತ್ತಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ಪ್ರತಿ ಪಂದ್ಯದ ತಂಡದಲ್ಲಿ ಪಾಲ್ಗೊಳ್ಳುವುದು ನನಗೆ ವೈಯಕ್ತಿಕ ಗುರಿಯಾಗಿತ್ತು. ಕಾರ್ಲೆಸ್ ಅವರು ನನಗೆ ಅವಕಾಶಗಳನ್ನು ನೀಡುತ್ತಿರುವುದರಿಂದ ಅವರ ಅಡಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ಕೆಲಸ ಮಾಡಲು ನನಗೆ ತುಂಬಾ ಸಂತೋಷವಾಗಿದೆ. ಅವರು ನನ್ನಂತಹ ಯುವಕರಿಗೆ ತುಂಬಾ ಬೆಂಬಲ ನೀಡುತ್ತಾರೆ. ಅವರು ಆಟದ ಮೂಲಕ ಉತ್ತಮ ಆಟವನ್ನು ಪಡೆಯುವ ಜವಾಬ್ದಾರಿಯನ್ನು ನನಗೆ ನೀಡುತ್ತಿದ್ದಾರೆ. ಅವರಿಗೆ ನನ್ನ ಮೇಲೆ ನಂಬಿಕೆ ಇದೆ.
ಆಟದ ಮೇಲೆ ಪ್ರಭಾವ ಬೀರಲು ಸೀಮಿತ ಸಮಯವನ್ನು ನೀವು ಪಡೆಯುತ್ತೀರಿ. ನಿಮ್ಮನ್ನು ಬೆಂಚ್ನಿಂದ ಕರೆದಾಗ ನಿಮಗೆ ಏನೆನಿಸುತ್ತದೆ?
ಪ್ರತಿ ಬಾರಿ ನಾನು ಆಟದಲ್ಲಿ ಬಂದಾಗ, ನಾನು ಗೋಲ್ ಪಡೆಯಲು ಸಹಾಯ ನೀಡುವ ಅಥವಾ ಗೋಲು ಗಳಿಸುವ ಗುರಿಯನ್ನು ಹೊಂದಿರುತ್ತೇನೆ. ಪ್ರತಿಯೊಬ್ಬ ಫುಟ್ಬಾಲ್ ಆಟಗಾರನಂತೆ, ನಾನು ಆಟದಲ್ಲಿ ಪ್ರಭಾವ ಬೀರಲು ಬಯಸುತ್ತೇನೆ. ಪ್ರತಿ ಪಂದ್ಯದಲ್ಲಿಯೂ ನಾನು ಆಟಕ್ಕಾಗಿ ಸಿದ್ಧನಾಗುತ್ತೇನೆ. ಏನು ಮಾಡಬೇಕು ಮತ್ತು ಹೇಗೆ ಇರಬೇಕು. ಇದು ದೊಡ್ಡ ಒತ್ತಡವಲ್ಲ ಆದರೆ ನಾನು ಅದನ್ನು ದೊಡ್ಡ ಜವಾಬ್ದಾರಿಯಾಗಿ ನೋಡುತ್ತೇನೆ. ತಂಡದಲ್ಲಿ ಸ್ಥಾನ ಪಡೆಯುವ ಮತ್ತು ಗೋಲ್ ಗಳಿಸುವ ನನ್ನ ಗುರಿಯ ಬಗ್ಗೆ ನಾನು ನನ್ನ ತಂದೆಗೆ ಹೇಳುತ್ತಿರುತ್ತೇನೆ. ಕಳೆದ ಆವೃತ್ತಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ನಾನು ಅಸಿಸ್ಟ್ಗಳನ್ನು ಪಡೆದುಕೊಂಡಿದ್ದೆ, ಈ ಆವೃತ್ತಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ನಾನು ಹೆಚ್ಚಿನ ಅಸಿಸ್ಟ್ ಮತ್ತು ಕೆಲವು ಗೋಲ್ಗಳನ್ನು ಬಯಸುತ್ತೇನೆ. ನಾನು ಆ ಗುರಿಯನ್ನು ಸಾಧಿಸುತ್ತೇನೆ ಎಂದು ಭಾವಿಸುತ್ತೇನೆ.
ಆಡುವ ಬಳಗದಲ್ಲಿ ದಿಗ್ಗಜ ಆಟಗಾರರೊಂದಿಗೆ ಸ್ಥಾನ ಪಡೆದು ತಂಡಕ್ಕೆ ಪ್ರವೇಶಿಸುವುದು ಯಾವ ರೀತಿಯ ಸವಾಲು?
ನನ್ನ ಸ್ಥಾನದಲ್ಲಿ ಭಾರತದ ಅತ್ಯುತ್ತಮ ಆಟಗಾರರಾದ ಸುನಿಲ್ ಛೇತ್ರಿ ಮತ್ತು ಉದಾಂತ ಸಿಂಗ್ ಅವರೊಂದಿಗೆ ಸ್ಪರ್ಧಿಸುವುದು ಸುಲಭವಲ್ಲ. ಉತ್ತಮ ಆಟಗಾರನಾಗುವುದು ನನಗೆ ದೊಡ್ಡ ಸವಾಲಾಗಿದೆ. ನಾನು ತರಬೇತಿಯ ಅವಧಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ಅತ್ಯುತ್ತಮವಾಗಿ ಸಾಧನೆ ಮಾಡುತ್ತಿದ್ದೇನೆ ಮತ್ತು ಅವರಿಗೆ ಅಲ್ಪ ಮಟ್ಟಿಗೆ ಸ್ಪರ್ಧೆಯನ್ನು ನೀಡುತ್ತಿದ್ದೇನೆ. ಪ್ರತಿ ತರಬೇತಿಯೊಂದಿಗೆ, ನಾನು ದಿನದಿಂದ ದಿನಕ್ಕೆ ಉತ್ತಮಗೊಳ್ಳುತ್ತಿದ್ದೇನೆ.
ನನಗೆ, ಇದು ಅನುಭವಿ ಆಟಗಾರರೊಂದಿಗಿನ ಕಲಿಕೆಯ ಅನುಭವ. ಈ ತಂಡ ಮತ್ತು ತಂಡದಲ್ಲಿ ಭಾಗಿಯಾಗಿರುವುದು ಸಂತೋಷ ಮತ್ತು ಗೌರವ. ನಾನು ಅವರಿಂದ ಬಹಳಷ್ಟು ಕಲಿಯುತ್ತಿದ್ದೇನೆ.
ನೀವು ಯಾವ ವಿಷಯದಲ್ಲಿ ಸುಧಾರಣೆ ಕಾಣಬೇಕಿದೆ ಎಂದು ಭಾವಿಸುತ್ತೀರಿ ಮತ್ತು ತಂಡದ ಆಡುವ 11ರ ಬಳಗಕ್ಕೆ ಹೊಂದಿಕೊಳ್ಳುವುದು ಕಠಿಣವಾಗಿದೆಯೇ?
ವೈಯಕ್ತಿಕವಾಗಿ, ನಾನು ಗೋಲ್ ಗುರಿಯತ್ತ ಹೆಚ್ಚಿನ ಹೊಡೆತಗಳನ್ನು ಪಡೆಯಲು ಬಯಸುತ್ತೇನೆ. ನನ್ನ ಗೋಲ್ ಗಳಿಸುವ ಸಾಮರ್ಥ್ಯವನ್ನು ಹೆಚ್ಚಿಸಿಕೊಳ್ಳಬೇಕು ಮತ್ತು ನನ್ನ ಆಟದ ಸಮಯದ ಲಾಭವನ್ನು ಪಡೆದುಕೊಳ್ಳಬೇಕು. ಕೇವಲ ಐದು ನಿಮಿಷಗಳು ಅಂಗಳದಲ್ಲಿದ್ದರೂ, ನನ್ನ ಸಾಮರ್ಥ್ಯವನ್ನು ತರಬೇತುದಾರರಿಗೆ ತೋರಿಸಬೇಕು. ಅಕಾಡೆಮಿಯ ಪರ ಆಟಗಳೂ ಸೇರಿದಂತೆ, ರಿಸರ್ವ್ ತಂಡದ ಪರ ಆಟಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಮೊದಲ ತಂಡವು ಬಳಸುವ ತಂತ್ರಗಳನ್ನು ನಾನು ಅನುಭವಿಸಿದ್ದೇನೆ. ಹಾಗಾಗಿ ಹೊಂದಿಕೊಳ್ಳುವುದು ಸುಲಭ.
ನಿಮ್ಮ ಸಮಯ ಕ್ಲಬ್ನಲ್ಲಿ ಹೇಗಿದೆ, ಅದರೊಂದಿಗೆ ಮೊದಲು ಅಕಾಡೆಮಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ಮತ್ತು ಈಗ ಆಡುವ 11ರ ಬಳಗದಲ್ಲಿ ತಂಡದೊಂದಿಗೆ ಹೇಗೆನಿಸುತ್ತದೆ?
ಇದು ತಂಡದಂತಿಲ್ಲ, ನಾವು ಒಂದು ಕುಟುಂಬದಂತಿದ್ದೇವೆ. ನಾವು ನಮ್ಮ ಕುಟುಂಬದಿಂದ ದೂರ ಉಳಿದಿರುತ್ತೇವೆ ಆದರೆ ಅದು ಈ ವೃತ್ತಿಯ ಭಾಗವಾಗಿದೆ ಮತ್ತು ಈ ತಂಡದೊಂದಿಗೆ ಇರುವುದು ನನಗೆ ಸಂತೋಷವಾಗಿದೆ. ನಾವು ಇಷ್ಟಪಡುವದನ್ನೇ ನಾವು ಮಾಡುತ್ತಿದ್ದೇವೆ, ಆದ್ದರಿಂದ ಅದು ಒಳ್ಳೆಯದು. ನಾನು ಅಕಾಡೆಮಿ ಮತ್ತು ರಿಸರ್ವ್ ತಂಡದಲ್ಲಿ ಮೂರು ವರ್ಷಗಳನ್ನು ಕಳೆದಿದ್ದೇನೆ. ನಾಲ್ಕನೇ ವರ್ಷದಲ್ಲಿ ನಾನು ಬಡ್ತಿ ಪಡೆದಿದ್ದೇನೆ ಮತ್ತು ಇದು ನನ್ನ ಐದನೇ ವರ್ಷ. ಈ ಕ್ಲಬ್ ನನಗೆ ಎಲ್ಲವನ್ನೂ ನೀಡಿದೆ, ನನ್ನನ್ನು ರೂಪಿಸಿದೆ. ಕ್ಲಬ್ನೊಂದಿಗೆ ನನಗೆ ಭಾವನಾತ್ಮಕ ಬಾಂಧವ್ಯವಿದೆ. ತರಬೇತುದಾರರು ಸಹ ನನ್ನನ್ನು ಇಷ್ಟಪಡುತ್ತಾರೆ ಮತ್ತು ನಾನು ಪ್ರತಿದಿನ ಕಲಿಯುತ್ತಿದ್ದೇನೆ.