ISL 2018-19: "Meeting ATK's John Johnson was like seeing an ex-girlfriend you still love," says Carles Cuadrat
- The Bengaluru FC coach also addressed the issue regarding Rahul Bheke's exclusion from the Indian National team.
Defender Johnson, who was with Bengaluru FC for the last five years, played his heart out for ATK but could not prevent his side from losing 0-1 in the Indian Super League (ISL) on Thursday.
When asked how the BFC players felt around Johnson again, Cuadrat said: "(laughs) When you see an ex-girlfriend you love and it has been a long time, the feeling was the same (when we saw him).
"Everybody loves him. He's a great guy, a thorough professional and we would like to have him in the team. But as I said, he made his decision (to leave) and we respect that.
"He's a very nice guy otherwise. He was kicking Sunil (Chhetri) now and then on the pitch but still very nice (laughs)."
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On Erik Paartalu's goal for Bengaluru FC
The game saw Bengaluru take the lead through Erik Paartalu in the 37th minute and hold onto that lead for the rest of the game.
Paartalu glanced into the goal a cross by Kean Lewis from the left for his second goal of the season. Incidentally, his other goal also came against ATK in the reverse fixture on October 31.
Talking about midfielder Paartalu's impact in the box, Cuadrat said: "Well, you know when there are some players you don't have from the last season, you have a new squad and you have to make use of the strengths that your players have.
"Last season, we had Lenny (Rodrigues) playing the same kind of role. Now in the midfield, (Harmanjot) Khabra play a similar role. Then we have Xisco. But we need to demand different things from Erik. "I am happy for him for scoring that goal. He's doing a great job. And to head the ball and score, it's a great thing. (It was the) Second goal of the league for him and I am happy about it."
On Rahul Bheke's exclusion from Asian Cup squad
Bengaluru FC's right-back Rahul Bheke has been the best defender in that position by far in the league. He has contributed two goals and an assist as well but was ostensibly left out by national team coach Stephen Constantine for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup.
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When asked whether Cuadrat was disappointed in Bheke missing out, the Spanish coach said: "All the football supporters in India have the feeling that Rahul needs to be in the best 34 in the country. He's shown that in every game (for us). The (national team) coach is taking the decision and he has some other problem (kind of idea). We have to respect the coach's decision and he's just trying to get India the best national he can get. If he has a problem, let's work on that problem."
On Bengaluru FC defender Nishu Kumar's injury
The coach added that left-back Nishu Kumar's injury, which saw being replaced in the first half by Rino Anto, could be a serious one. Anto too limped off the field in the second half with a hamstring injury.
Speaking about their injuries, Cuadrat said: "It looks like Rino has a hamstring muscle problem and it will take one month. He will be ready in Jan.
"Nishu Kumar has a knee problem. It's a ligament problem so he will have to go to the hospital tonight to see what he has."