Bengaluru FC became the latest Indian Super League (ISL) side to slump to three consecutive defeats in the 2020-21 season as Mumbai City FC outfoxed them 3-1 at the Fatorda Stadium in Margao on Tuesday.
The ISL table-toppers will get an opportunity to represent India in the AFC Champions League. Bengaluru FC themselves finished at the summit on two different occasions, but the coveted spot was not up for grabs at that time.
Bengaluru FC coach Carles Cuadrat accepted his side's defeat to Mumbai City FC sportingly. Heaping praises on his opponent, the former ISL winning coach said:
"We have to improve a lot in different aspects. We have some players that are not in the best moment. Some have muscle issues and we are missing Ashique (Kuruniyan) who was one of our fittest players. These are not excuses, but I think ATK (Mohun Bagan) and Mumbai (City FC) have one of the most consistent squads. We have to understand as a club that maybe we have to try to play for the playoffs because ATK and Mumbai are showing that they are going to fight for the (AFC) Champions League spot."
Bengaluru FC conceded three goals against Mumbai City FC and produced a lacklustre performance in defense. Carles Cuadrat opined that the team missed the likes of Nishu Kumar and Albert Serran, who have left the club.
"The change of players makes you try to teach the new players the way we want to play the game. The club has taken the decision to change the defense. Last season our defense was the best as we did not concede a lot of goals (13). I have to respect the decision. I am a worker of the club and they decided that Nishu (Kumar) and (Albert) Serran could go for other kind of offers. My job is to teach the new players the type of play we want (from them). We are trying that with Ajith (Kumar), Pratik (Chaudhari), and (Wungngayam) Muirang. It's a hard job, but I love it," Cuadrat added.
Gurpreet Singh Sandhu is the best goalkeeper in India: Bengaluru FC coach Carles Cuadrat
Bengaluru FC produced a better performance in the second half, with Sunil Chhetri scoring a penalty to half Mumbai's lead in the 79th minute.
However, five minutes later, the ball pierced through Gurpreet Singh Sandhu's hands to cross the goal-line as Bartholomew Ogbeche scored the third goal for Mumbai City FC.
Despite Sandhu's mistake, Cuadrat feels he is still the best goalkeeper in India.
"We are happy with Gurpreet (Singh Sandhu). He is the best goalkeeper in India. But, mistakes happen. Last night (Chennaiyin FC vs Hyderabad FC match) also there were two mistakes from the goalkeeper. We have to support him," said Cuadrat.
Although Bengaluru FC have lost three matches on the trot, Cuadrat pointed out that two of those defeats came against ATK Mohun Bagan and Mumbai City FC - two teams fighting for the AFC Champions League spot.
"We are losing games, but two of the them are against teams that will be in top four for sure and fighting for the Champions League spot. Our league has become that of playing in the playoffs by reaching the third or fourth position. We have been winning against ATK. In the last season, we beat them 1-0 at home. We have been beating (Sergio) Lobera's team, like FC Goa. We can beat them in short games. But, in long league, they are showing lots of consistency," the Spaniard concluded.
Bengaluru FC will next take on ISL debutants SC East Bengal on Saturday.