Bengaluru FC are on the cusp of making history as they take on Johor Darul Taz’im of Malaysia for the second leg of the AFC Cup semi-final clash. The first leg had ended 1-1, giving the Blues a slender lead going into the second leg at the Sree Kanteerva Stadium against the defending champions.
Speaking ahead of the game, manager Albert Roca did nothing to hide the importance of the game against the Malaysians, “I can consider that for Indian football it is one of the most important games in the history. Only two teams (East Bengal and Dempo) have reached the semifinals and not one has made it to the final. So, I understand that for the supporters it is big.”
“For me, I’m not out of the consideration. But I try to be calm, so that I can pass the same to the team and that they are not over-stimulated because this is a game of football and we will try to do our best and try and make it to the final. We’ll try to be competitive and play hard, which is one of the most important thing for me.” he continued.
Since the new manager took over, there has been a considerable change in the way football has been played in the Garden City of India, “It’s not just about the system but the way of playing the game. The big problem here is perhaps not performing with different systems and rhythm. We can see in TV that the other matches are much faster and what is the problem here? Structure”
“The problem is rhythm, so I have tried for the two and half months to coach them on that. To press more in defence and to go in attack and to run. Without a good rhythm and that change of mind, we will never achieve the football that we want.” the former Barcelona assistant manager reiterated.
JDT have quite a few key players suspended for the semi-final second leg after picking up a booking in the first leg, most notably the striking pair of Pereyra Diaz and Martin Lucero who were the main threat for the defending champions. When asked whether that makes Bengaluru’s job easier, the Spaniard promptly replied “No. It will be our biggest mistake to think that that game would be easier.”
“The four substitutes they play in the Malaysian national team. They have experience, if we think that it will be easier, even by five percent, we will be committing a huge error. The players know perfectly that its going to be tough. Even more perhaps than with the Argentine guys, we have very focussed on achieving the final with or without these two players.”
The message is clear from the man at the helm for Bengaluru FC, take nothing for granted. Given the record that JDT have in the competition, they would be best advised not to as well.