Bengaluru FC head coach Simon Grayson believes his team have got to step out on the field believing in their quality and with and aim to make the playoffs of the Indian Super League (ISL) 2022-23 despite finding themselves in a challenging position.
The Blues take on East Bengal FC at the Vivekanand Yuba Bharati Krirangan on Friday in the final ISL match of 2022 as both teams face a must-win scenario to keep their slim playoff hopes alive.
But Grayson believes the key to a dramatic recovery lies in keeping the belief.
“We have to put our results together, work hard and get back-to-back wins regardless of who we’re playing. While the objective is achievable, we’ve got to believe we can do that,” Grayson said at the pre-match press conference.
“We’ve developed better in possession, created more chances, and we’ve been pleasing on the eye. We’ve got to now turn good performances into good wins,” he added.
The Blues have good memories of Kolkata as they last time they were in the city, they won the Durand Cup by beating Mumbai City FC in the final. The feel-good factor from that tournament could prove to be a boost for the Blues.
“We’re looking forward to going back to the ground where we have good memories of winning the Durand Cup. So we want to draw positive energy from that. We need” the Englishman said.
“East Bengal FC will be much like us, frustrated at how the season’s gone. They’re more of a counter-attacking team. Their record shows they have done much better away from home than here so we’ve got to do all we can to get back to winning,” he added.
Bengaluru FC have scored the least number of goals by any team in the ISL season and that has hugely hampered the team this season despite having the joint fifth-best defensive record in the league.
For Grayson, the goal statistics are cause of big frustration.
“We work nearly every day on crossing, shooting and finishing. But a lot of it is to do with confidence. When players go through these patches they feel they need to take an extra touch and allow the defender to close them down. When you are confident, you hit something the first time and it flies into the back of the net,” he said.
“It’s frustrating because we have a lot of clinical strikers in our team but at the moment, they are just not able to hit the target,” he added.
Speaking about facing a potentially big crowd that will root against his team, Grayson feels it can serve as an inspiration for his team.
“I think when you play against teams that have a big following, it’s got to inspire you. You have to be excited about playing in front of big crowds but also when you go out on that pitch, you must make sure you do whatever you can to silence the crowd,” he said.
The Blues have picked up just four points on their travels but would feel they have a good chance of improving on that record when they take on East Bengal FC who are yet to register a point in Kolkata.
Having secured the services of Pablo Perez, the Blues will hope he brings in enough quality for them to pick up all three points.
Speaking at the pre-match press conference, Perez expressed delight at joining the Blues and opened up on his first adventure outside Europe.
“I am very happy to be here. It’s my first time out of Europe. But it’s a good city to live in. The teammates and the head coach have made it easier for me. Javi Hernandez has helped me a lot,” he said.
“We have really good players. I think we have a good team. I hope to help the team to achieve victory. I have the desire to play, score and assist,” he concluded.