Moosa thinks Bengaluru FC are right in the mix for a place in the ISL play-offs…
Bengaluru FC interim coach Naushad Moosa said giving young players the opportunity to experience top-level professional football is essential. He argued that, despite being in the race for a top four spot at the end of the Indian Super League (ISL) league phase, the experience that young players would gain from minutes to their active this season would continue to help them in the long run.
“We are trying to balance things out. We have not given up on the play-offs. But we are giving them time to prepare for next season. So the idea is there to prepare our team for the next season as well. It is important for them to understand the level of ISL as being totally different. So give them 20 to 30 minutes to figure out the pressure and the level of the game, ”Moosa said.
They face Hyderabad FC on Thursday night and Manuel Marquez’s side haven’t won a game in their last three outings. Moosa stressed that they would look to take advantage of the spaces Hyderabad left when they advance and reiterated that play-off spots are up for grabs, citing the example of how NorthEast United have moved up in the standings.
“They (Hyderabad) are pushing hard. They play well between the lines. We will try to use the spaces they leave. They are a good team. The way we are on the table, we have to pull out all the stops and play more attacking football to get those three points. It is open to all. NorthEast has won back-to-back wins. It is very important for us to win the next game, ”he said.
In the last four matches under Moosa, Bengaluru FC have managed to accumulate two points and they have been asked if they feel the heat of not getting the expected results. He replied that the players as keen on getting three points on the table.
“As a coach, I would like to have three points. But I need to understand the dynamics of the players. More than me, they (the players) desperately need the victory. The players argue. There were a few defensive gaps. But they work hard. Three points are very important for us to move forward. Everyone is fighting for this, ”he replied.
The Blues have no recognized left-back in their ranks. Ashique Kuruniyan was deployed in this role and the India international was injured. Since then, players like Ajith Kumar, Rahul Bheke and Parag Shetty have been asked to replace. Moosa explained that he needed a faster player to play on the left flank in order to provide sufficient protection to the left-back.
“Our left side was more exposed. Cleiton (Silva) wasn’t dropping much. We will see that it is covered. We will try to stay compact across the board. I always try to find the right form for the team. Cleiton is a more attacking player. I will need a fast player to cover my left back. Maybe Leon (Augustine) can play on the left like he’s got rhythm. We’ll take a call on this. Tomorrow we are looking to have a compact defense.
“The last two days we’ve been working on it. The first 15 minutes are very important to be in control. It is important not to give in early and to keep possession. We gave the ball easily in our third defense (in the last game against Odisha). We are currently working on it. We hope to improve tomorrow. Harmanjot Khabra should play. We will take a call after today’s training. We won’t force him to play. He is confident to play and would like to have him, ”said the former Air India coach.
Almost all ISL teams have struggled to score goals consistently and Bengaluru FC have faced the same concern as well. Moosa spoke about the change in position of skipper Sunil Chhetri, as he played more centrally than starting from the left side.
“It was our main concern. Since I took over, we’ve been focusing on that. We are working on finishing drills. But it takes time. We’re really missing a number nine… a player like Miku. Sunil was playing from the left and now I play him more centrally. But from the next matches, we hope to be able to improve, ”he said.
Moosa also spoke about the importance of playing in front of their home fans at Kanteerava Stadium and that not playing at Bengaluru has to some extent not helped their results.
“It’s the same for each team. Of course, there is a lot of difference. I’ve been with the team for three years. Playing a home game was totally different. It really helped us. We have rarely lost points in Bangalore. How touching. But it’s for all teams. We are in a bubble with no access to the outside world. If there hadn’t been a bio-bubble, it would have been different. But the fans are with us even in this situation. We have received messages of support from them on social media, ”he signed.