Westwood confident of strong BFC show

Positive outlook

Westwood confident of strong BFC show
Coach Ashley Westwood, who has made a name for himself in the country in just 18 months, could not have hoped for a better start to the new season as his Bengaluru FC side clinched their maiden Federation Cup last Saturday.

Showing that their hunger has not diminished one bit, the Blues gave another ample reminder in Goa of what people can expect from them when they kick-start their I-League defence this Saturday. Appearing confident, the straight-talking Westwood spoke to the media on Tuesday on the pressure of being the champions, the AFC Cup and team’s form. Excerpts...

On pressure of being the defending champions: After five games last season, we won four and drew one. So the word was out that we are a good side. So there was pressure last year as everyone was raising their game against us. They got a lot of video analysis. But now you get the extra set of information about the players and that’s how it is.

We are the champions of I-league and Federation Cup. People will try hard to beat the best team. We are prepared for that and hopefully we are upto the mark. We want to put a good show and defend the trophy. We also want to make a name for ourselves at the Asian level too with some good performances. Expectation-wise we have won the Federation Cup and now the rest is a bonus.

On the team’s form: The last competitive game we lost was to Shillong Lajong (I-League) away in March last year. That's almost ten months without a loss. We got knocked out in the Durand Cup but that was on penalties. We didn't lose that game. We're in good form. If the league had started with the Federation Cup we'd been sitting on top of the table now with 16 points from 18.

On the hectic calendar: The players are fine and are conditioned well. We know what we're doing at the club. We know what's required to withstand these games. Josh (Walker) picked up a tight hamstring but apart from that we've had no soft tissue injuries, which shows we're conditioned well. You have to be prepared for this if you're a modern day footballer. I'm used to that where I come from. I was used to that in my career. If you supply the right platform, it shouldn't be an issue.

On whether there will be rotation: The best players play always. Last season we used mainly about 14 players because they were the best players. It's up to the squad to push for the first 11. We'll put out our fittest and strongest side. We used about 18 players in the Fed Cup, so we rotated a little bit there. But we were looking to win every game.

On switching to natural turf at Sree Kanteerava: To be honest it (the turf) was poor a few weeks back but there has been a lot of work in the last two weeks when we were away in Goa. Hopefully it is upto the mark. We just played the Federation Cup on grass so it won’t be a problem. We've played in other stadiums in the past. It doesn't matter where this team plays. We are professional enough to adapt to any circumstances.

On whether AFC Cup or I-League is the priority: For me as a coach, the priority is the next game. We won't prioritise between the I-League and the AFC Cup. It's just a game of football.

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