August 1, 2021

‘We have to be compact against Bagan’ – Bengaluru boss Naushad Moosa wary of Mariners’ threat

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The Blues need a win to go within a point of the top four spots when they take on ATK Mohun Bagan…

Bengaluru have lost just once in their last six games of the 2020-21 Indian Super League (ISL) under interim head coach Naushad Moosa.

The Bengaluru coach, after the goalless draw against Chennaiyin on Friday, admitted that his side was lucky to get away with a draw. As he sets up his team to face second-placed ATK Mohun Bagan, Moosa chose to focus on the positives from their past displays. 

“[Going by] the result against East Bengal and in the last match, the way we played in the first half, we could have done better but the team is staying even after the problems such as injuries to Juanan and now we’re also doubtful of Cleiton (Silva). We’ll get to know tomorrow what we are supposed to do,” Moosa informed

“What I have seen is that, against better opponents, we have given better performances. So let’s hope for the best (against Bagan),” he added.

ATK Mohun Bagan have been in stellar form in terms of digging out winning performances as they recently defeated Kerala Blasters (3-2) and Odisha (4-1) and look favourites to secure a spot in the playoffs. 

“The way Mohun Bagan is playing, they have been scoring after conceding also. So we have to be more compact. It won’t be an easy match but the way we are playing, hopefully, we can give them a tough fight. It won’t be easy for them either because the boys know how important the game is,” Moosa continued.

“We have not conceded goals in the last two matches. That’s also a positive sign. First (priority) is not to concede goals and (then) we can score any time. So anything can happen.”

Bengaluru have been struggling upfront without an out and out striker and Cleiton has also had to undergo an MRI to know the extent of his injury. The forward remains doubtful for the clash against the Mariners.

Should the Brazilian be ruled out injured, Moosa stated, “It’s going to be a big blow. It won’t be easy for us as Sunil (Chhetri) and Cleiton were chasing all the balls. But we have Kristian Opseth. So we’re working on that. Leon (Augustine) was a good option but he’s out (injured). Whatever players you have, you have to work with that and get the best result possible. 

“Right now, the concern is having a good number nine9. [But] we cannot keep saying that and we have to approach the game in a positive way. We scored four goals in the last three games. So the goals are coming in. It’s not that we are not scoring now but we have to get more numbers in the attacking third and hopefully, we will do that tomorrow.”

Naushad Moosa went on to explain so as to how he has been trying to cover up the absence of a suitable strike partner for Chhetri.

“Cleiton is more of a winger but I’m using him as a striker with Sunil. That is the option I have. If you see the last game against Chennaiyin also, we were suffering on the left flank but we have to work on that. With the quality of players we have right now if you see Sunil, this year he has been taking more responsibility but he has never complained about that. It’s not only Sunil, the entire team. But if you talk about him scoring goals, the problem is we don’t have that proper number 10 who can feed those balls to the strikers.

“Again, I cannot complain that there is no consistency. So whatever you see, Dimas is out, Juanan is out, now Cleiton (is doubtful) and tomorrow it may be someone else. If you see other clubs, they have good bench strength. This year we have been suffering on that front,” he deplored. 

The Bengaluru coach also gave an update about midfielder Dimas Delgado who had returned to his home country due to personal reasons. He may be available only for the club’s last game of the league stage against Jamshedpur on February 25 after the completion of his 14-day quarantine period following his return from Spain.