AFC Cup: Gurpreet Singh Says Bengaluru Can Turn Things Around After 3-2 Loss to Altyn Asyr
After losing 3-2 to Altyn Asyr in the first leg of the AFC Cup inter-zone play-off semi-finals, Bengaluru FC goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu lamented the Blues' start, especially their first-half performance.
"We didn't start like we wanted to, but that's football," Gurpreet said. "Credit to Altyn Asyr for taking advantage of our mistakes and punished us."
Bengaluru were 3-0 down with half an hour to go and that was when they mounted a comeback of sorts with Rahul Bheke scoring from a rebound off Sunil Chhetri's header that had come off the post before Erik Paartalu added a second with a header of his own.
"Credit also to our boys for showing character and not giving up even though we conceded three goals. People generally lose hope in that period but we trusted our football and that was a positive sign that we are capable of turning things around."
Players didn't want to make mistakes: Gurpreet
Coach Carles Cuadrat had said after the game that Bengaluru FC did not play in the speed they were used to and were comfortable with last season. The fast-paced football and quick attacks saw the Blues reach two finals last season, finishing with a trophy (Indian Super Cup).
But Gurpreet did not think that the slow start was because Bengaluru were playing their first game of the season. Altyn Asyr are effectively in mid-season. They have already played 14 games in the Yokary Liga.
"We have trained for five weeks already," he explained. "It was the first game and maybe people did not want to make mistakes. Once we trust each other and try to play our football, things will happen for you.
"In the last 30-40 minutes, it did. But unfortunately, we were not good enough in the first half and got punished. We just need to take the positives, learn from the negatives, and try to make sure we deliver a good performance in Turkmenistan."
There were concerns that the pitch wasn't up to the mark. The turf at the Kanteerava Stadium was in better condition during the Indian Super League and AFC Cup group stage matches but this game saw puffs of dust every now and then.
"The pitch was a bit tricky," the goalkeeper said. "There was a lot of sand and you could see that it was difficult and it took time for us to get a hold of ourselves and play our brand of football."
With the Blues 3-2 down, they go into the second leg needing to win by two goals thanks to Altyn Asyr's three away goals. But the Indian shot-stopper is confident they can turn things around if they play the kind of football they were known for last season.
"We have to take as much confidence we can [into the second leg]," he said. "I think we have the capability to turn things around. But we need to be smart as well and learn from the mistakes we made today."