Naushad Moosa on ISL play-offs: It is open for everyone, NorthEast have got two wins in a row


Moosa believes that Bengaluru FC are very much in the mix for a berth in the ISL play-offs…

Bengaluru FC interim coach Naushad Moosa stated that it is vital to give opportunities to young players to get a taste of topflight professional football. He maintained that while they are in the race for a position in the top four at the end of the Indian Super League (ISL) league stage, the experience the young players would gain out of the minutes under their belt this season would go on to help them in the long term.

“We are trying to balance things. We have not given up for play-offs. But we are giving them time to prepare for next season. So, the idea is there to prepare our team for the next season also. It is important for them to understand the level of ISL as its totally different. So, giving them 20-to-30 minutes to understand the pressure and level of the game,” said Moosa.

They will face Hyderabad FC on Thursday evening and Manuel Marquez’s team haven’t won a game in their last three outings. Moosa pointed that they will look to take advantage of the spaces Hyderabad leave when they move forward and reiterated that the play-off berths are up for grabs citing the example of how NorthEast United have moved up on the standings.

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“They (Hyderabad) are pressing well. They are playing well between the lines. We will try to use the spaces that they leave. They are a good team. The way we are on the table we have to  go all out and play more attacking football to get those three points. It is open for everyone. NorthEast have got two wins in a row. It is very important for us to win the next match,” he mentioned.

In the last four matches under Moosa, Bengaluru FC have managed to amass two points and he was questioned on whether he is feeling the heat from not getting the desired results. He replied that the players as keen as himself to get three points on the table.

“As a coach, I would love to have three points. But I need to understand the dynamics of the players. More than me they (the players) are desperate for the win. The players are fighting out. They have been a few defensive lapses. But they are working hard. Three points are very important for us to move forward. All are fighting for that,” he answered.

The Blues do not have a recognised left-back in their ranks. Ashique Kuruniyan was deployed in the said role and the India international suffered an injury. Since then, the likes of Ajith Kumar, Rahul Bheke and Parag Shetty have been asked to fill in. Moosa explained that he needs a player with more speed to play on the left flank in order to provide enough protection to the left-back.

Bengaluru Kerala Blasters ISL Cleiton Silva

“Our left side was exposed more. Cleiton (Silva) was not dropping down much. We will see that it is covered. We will try to remain compact throughout the field. I’m still trying to find the apt shape for the team. Cleiton is a more attacking player. I’ll need a fast player to cover my left-back. Maybe Leon (Augustine) can play on the left as he has pace. We will take a call on that. Tomorrow we look to have a compact defence.

“Last two days we have been working on it. The first 15 minutes are very important to have control. It is important to not concede early and keep possession. We gave the ball easily in our defensive third (in the last game against Odisha). We are working on that now. We hope to improve tomorrow. Harmanjot Khabra should play. We will take a call after today’s training. We will not force him to play. He is confident to play and would like to have him,” said the former Air India coach.

Almost every ISL team have struggled to score goals regularly and Bengaluru FC too have been plagued with the same concern. Moosa spoke on the positional shift for skipper Sunil Chhetri as he has been playing more centrally as opposed to start from the left side.

“It was our main concern. Since I took over we are focussing on that. We are working on finishing drills. But it takes time. We are really missing a number nine…a player like Miku. Sunil was playing from the left and now I am playing him more centrally. But from the next games, we hope to be able to improve on that,” he pointed.

Moosa also spoke on the importance of playing in front of their home fans at the Kanteerava Stadium and how not playing at Bengaluru has, to an extent, not helped their results.

“It is the same for every team. Of course, there is a lot of difference. I have been with the team for the last three years. Playing a home match was totally different. It really helped us. We rarely lost points in Bengaluru. It is affecting. But it is for all teams. We are in a bubble with no access to the outside world. If it was not for bio-bubble then it would have been different. But the fans are with us even in this situation. We have been receiving supportive messages in social media from them,” he signed off.



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