ISL Final: Bengaluru FC's Carles Cuadrat looking forward to Lobera challenge, says past results matter little in 'crazy' finals
"We beat Goa twice in the league phase, yes, but that is in the past. We won't look into that now," Carles Cuadrat opened at the pre-ISL Final press conference. With his very first line, the Bengaluru FC head coach dispelled any notions that his side would head into the final with any sort of advantage.
"This is a final, this is a completely different situation. If you see the game at Kanteerava, they could have taken the lead very early when [Ahmed] Jahouh's shot his the post, and then maybe we have a different result," Cuadrat said.
Throughout the press conference, Cuadrat remained steadfast on one thing - that finals are "crazy" isolated occasions and what has gone before counts for little, once a ball is kicked in the final.
"I was in the tribune of the Camp Nou in the 1999 Champions League final. Bayern Munich was winning 1-0, nothing was happening and then in a few moments, Manchester United scored twice and took the trophy."
"One moment you have a hand on the trophy, and then in another moment, the other team is celebrating with it. That is football, and we have to see what happens"
Cuadrat also said that his side had learnt from last year's final, and were itching to get back their spot in the AFC Cup, a tournament in which the Blues have done so well in recent season. "We love playing in Asia, we love carrying the flag of India in Asian competition, and we want to do that next season," he said.
To do that, Bengaluru will have to reverse their fortunes from last year's final, when they lost 3-2 to Chennaiyin FC.
"We scored first, we were at home, everything was good. Then they scored two goals - two perfect crosses, two perfect headers - off set-pieces, and we lost," Cuadrat said.
The Bengaluru manager was in no mood to make any excuses for why his side lost last year's summit clash, saying Chennaiyin executed their plan perfectly. "What I am trying to say is that you can plan a lot of things, but there are dynamics in the game that take it elsewhere," he said.
Is he excited about coming up against good friend Sergio Lobera once again, then? Of course, he is. In an interesting turn, Cuadrat revealed that his counterpart on the other bench in the final was one of the people who convinced him to take up the Bengaluru job, when it was offered to him at the end of last season.
"I am very grateful to Sergio because before I moved to Bengaluru, I spoke with him over coffee and he said 'Just do it'. He convinced me that it would be the right decision. It's a special moment especially now because we meet each other in the final."
What does Cuadrat fear about the Goan side, though? Nothing that Bengaluru cannot tackle, the head coach chuckled. "We've got players capable of becoming heroes. Now the problem is Goa has the same. We have the ability and we will try to ensure their players are not heroes in the final," Cuadrat said.
Cuadrat believes that both his team and Goa were very similar throughout the course of the season. Both Bengaluru and Goa had the same number of wins, the same number of losses and draws over the course of the season. Goa have scored more than the Blues, but Cuadrat doesn't think that's a concern.
"We didn't have Miku for half of the season. With him, maybe we would be near Goa in goalscoring as well," the Spaniard said.
Do the two sides cancel each other out, then? Cuadrat certainly does think so.
"Both teams have very good midfields, strong defences. They have Coro. We have Miku. They have Brandon [Fernandes] and Jackichand [Singh]. We have Sunil [Chhetri] and Udanta [Singh]. So it's going to be about who plays well on the day of the final."
Cuadrat also took some time to rubbish any suggestions that Miku had deliberately kicked out at Federico Gallego, in the incident which resulted in NorthEast United's Uruguayan midfielder suffering multiple fractures in his shin bone, during the second leg of the semifinal.
NorthEast had complained to the ISL regarding the incident, and Cuadrat didn't hold back in his criticism of it. "I don't know who wrote the complaint, but I can say that person knows nothing about Football," he said.
"It was an unfortunate accident, but anyone who says Miku did it deliberately should not be taken seriously. Miku visited him in hospital on the very next day. Gerard Zaragoza, my assistant, and I visited him too, and wished him well"
So, what is his final message to the players, before the big dance?
"I know my players. They want to win trophies. I maybe have to calm them down, and ensure that they stick to the plan and manage the game in a way that will help us."