Guimaraes: Bengaluru result an invaluable learning
It's when you fall, that you learn to rise.
Sunday night was a tough pill to swallow for head coach Alexandre Guimaraes and the Islanders and the boisterous home crowd at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium certainly did not make things any easier for the Islanders.
Bengaluru FC midfielder Edu Garcia opened the scoring for the home side with a close-range finish at the near post before former Mumbai City FC striker Sunil Chhetri took full advantage of a defensive mishap between goalkeeper Amrinder Singh and full back Mehrajuddin Wadoo to round off a comfortable 2-0 win for BFC.
"We knew that we were going to play a side that is more prepared and has more competitive minutes under their belt. For us, it was the first game of the season it was about getting on track and the difference in preparedness was evident in the first half. We re-calibrated our game at the start of the second half, aiming to fix some tactical errors we made in the first".
After they got the first goal, we were chasing the game all throughout. We were exposed on some occasions at the back after going on the offensive and conceded a second eventually. After the injury to Leo, our hand was forced to go with a different game plan. But we had a good learning of what we've had to do this past week and how we have to prepare to face FC Goa on Saturday.
Guimaraes mentioned that he has been aware of Albert Roca and his style of football when the incumbent BFC coach was in charge of the El Salvador national team not too long ago.
He has a style of football that he has made his own and has been imparting wherever he has coached. From when he was the national coach for El Salvador to our game on Sunday, the style was very similar. Moreover, he has the players that suit the style of football he wants to play.
Being international coaches, you hear of each other through your circles. We've known of each other for quite some time now. But we first met only earlier this year at the ISL Draft.
Sunil Chhetri, who's also the club top scorer for the Islanders, was on the scoresheet too and even though Guimaraes only had him on his side for no more than 8 games last season, the Costa Rican had great praises for the India captain.
"Sunil is undoubtedly the most popular and the most loved footballer in the country and he fully deserves it. He understands the game very well and it was evident not only when he was with us last season but also when he faced us on Sunday".
The gaffer did not forget to mention former Islander Udanta Singh who, according to Guimaraes, is the future flagbearer of Indian football. "Udanta is the 'new blood' of football in India. He's the future, right? It was a shame he couldn't feature much for us last season as he was returning from a serious injury. To our misfortunes, he had a good game against us but his development as a footballer has been phenomenal".
The gaffer was left to cope with the absence of a few key players who were either out injured or not fit enough to start the opening encounter of the 2017-18 Indian Super League. His problems worsened when midfielder Leo Costa hobbled off in the 18th minute.
"Our first reaction was of caution. We have a long season ahead and we wanted to take every precaution possible with one of our key players", said Guimaraes, who will be hoping for a quick recovery of his side's key performer.
"Hopefully, we will have some positives soon with Thiago and Balwant making their way towards full fitness. However, with Aibor, he's undergone a surgery and with him, our only aim is to facilitate his rehab in the best way possible. But his absence will be prolonged and will be felt", said Guimaraes when asked about the condition of the other notable absentees from the matchday squad from Bengaluru.
Going through a purple patch, the injury to striker Balwant Singh was extremely untimely. After being called up for the Indian National Team after a long hiatus, Balwant made a successful return scoring 3 goals in as many games for India. "Power. That's what Balwant brings to the side. And with him comes the creativity of Thiago. Both of them have the potential to add that intimidating factor to our attacking line up".
The Islanders face FC Goa on Saturday in what will be the first home game of the season. The visitors won 3-2 away to Chennai in the opening round and will be confident coming into their second away trip in as many games. But Guimaraes seems to have his plans ready for Sergio Lobera's side.
"The result in Bengaluru was an invaluable learning opportunity for us. We know what we did and more importantly, what we did not do. Goa will probably have the momentum from their last game, but we definitely won't make it easy for them.  We hope to have the full squad available soon and I assure you, we will play like the way we know the team can. We go for the three points."
Guimaraes was full of praise of the boisterous support his side received at home in a season where the Islanders finished top of the table but bowed out in the semifinals versus ATK. "Our fans in Mumbai were excellent last season. On some days, it was the support of the crowd that carried us and gave the boys that extra bit of confidence."
"Saturday evening. 8pm. Perfect setting to watch a game of football, right? We are really looking forward to play at home and we hope it is a loud and packed house. We know our fans have waited for a long time to see us and we hope we can give them the perfect result come Saturday!"
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