Anto eager to get into the mix

Fit-again BFC defender ready to fight for his place in side

Anto eager to get into the mix

Every time Bengaluru FC have played at the Sree Kanteerava stadium this season, he would be seated either in the VIP area or with the team analyst, engrossed in the action.

He celebrated CK Vineeth’s hat-trick against Mumbai FC from the stands and was seen explaining certain facets of the game to his dad when Bengaluru played Minerva Punjab FC a few weeks ago.

For a fan, nothing could be more interesting but for a footballer who revels in the heat of the battle, the view from the sidelines could be deeply frustrating. A foot injury forced that scenario upon Rino Anto, with the Bengaluru full-back missing over two months of action.

On a comeback trail, Anto is eager to get into the mix. “I have been waiting for this day,” he said after his second training session post the injury.

“It’s been two days since I’ve started training and things have been good so far. Yesterday, (on Wednesday) I was bit slow. I didn’t want to rush into anything. But today, I think, it was better.” The past two months have been testing for the defender from Kerala but he has stuck steadfastly to the rehabilitation programme.

“Well, that’s something I had decided. Josh (Joshua Fletcher, the strength and conditioning coach) had a plan for me and I ensured I followed it,” he said.

“One might think if a player is injured he sits at home till the injury heals. But that’s not the case. I was out there in the gym, going through my routine. Then the physiotherapy sessions, and then end the day by hitting the pool.

“Since I couldn’t run on the field, I had to maintain my lung strength, so swimming formed a major part of my rehab. The best way to do that was to hit the pool.”

In Anto’s absence, head coach Albert Roca has operated Harmanjot Khabra in the right-back position, and the 29-year-old thinks Khabra has done a good job so far.

“He has done a good job. He’s a midfielder who is playing as a right-back. But then he has proved his worth with his performance so far. Well, I am sure it won’t be easy for me to get into the side. But I am ready for the fight.”

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