Bengaluru FC unveil six new signings

Skipper Sunil Chhetri, now relieved of his international duties, spoke highly about the additions and his plans for the season.
Last Updated : 07 July 2024, 14:25 IST

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Bengaluru: Bengaluru FC launched the 2024-25 season with an open training session at the Bengaluru Football Stadium here on Sunday.

The club, coming off a disappointing domestic season, revealed a raft of new signings to bolster their ranks. 

Spanish winger Edgar Mendez joins BFC. The 34-year-old arrives with over 150 La Liga appearances and last featured for Mexican top division club Necaxa. 

Mendez was revealed as a new Blues member atop a 'ratha' (chariot) to a raucous reception, with SP Balasubrahmanyam's 'Santhoshakke' blaring out from the speakers.

Mumbai City FC's Indian Super League Cup-winning duo Alberto Noguera and Jorge Pereyra Diaz also join the Blues, and although they were not present in person for the season launch, two garlanded Sandalwood-style cut-outs confirmed their acquisitions. 

Former BFC players Rahul Bheke and Lalthuammawia Ralte return to the club. Bheke signs from Mumbai on a two-year deal, while Ralte, now in his third stint with BFC, will be goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu's understudy.

Indian defender Mohamed Salah K moves from Punjab FC to Bengaluru after a promising season for The Shers. 

Aussie duo Aleksandar Jovanovic and Ryan Williams have extended their stays with Bengaluru FC and were spotted training. Dutchman Keziah Veendorp's contract has been mutually terminated.

Head coach Gerard Zaragoza was delighted after bringing in the players he wanted and touched upon the advantages of having a full pre-season with the club to prepare for the ISL.

"The club has signed the players that I want, both Indians and foreigners. We have built a nice team, and we are here to win. We have signed players like Rahul Bheke, who was the captain in Mumbai City. (Alberto) Noguera, Jorge (Pereyra Diaz) are leaders, Edgar (Mendez) is a player is aggressive on the pitch," Zaragoza said.

"We had a good defensive structure since I came last season, but now we have good strikers to finish chances. The tactics depend on the players. That is the advantage of having a pre-season, players will show which kind of football they can come up with. I am a coach who loves to play with the ball, loves to press high," the Spaniard added.

Zaragoza outlined that the club will remain active in the transfer market for Indian players if any opportunities arise. He also confirmed that the first team will travel to the Durand Cup, scheduled to be held from July 27 across four cities -- Kolkata, Kokrajhar, Jamshedpur and Shillong.

Cut-outs of Bengaluru FC players at  the Bangalore Football Stadium in Bengaluru on Sunday.

Cut-outs of Bengaluru FC players at  the Bangalore Football Stadium in Bengaluru on Sunday.

Credit: DH Photo/ S K Dinesh

"We have all the foreigners, one is coming during this week. Indians, if there are any opportunities, we are ready to sign.

"We will be with the first team for Durand Cup. These kind of games will help us prepare for ISL," Zaragoza signed off.

BFC also announced a new goalkeeping coach - Konstantine Gugunava. Giannis Gkiokas will take over responsibilities as the strength and conditioning coach.

Knees are old but feels like a fresh start: Sunil Chhetri

Skipper Sunil Chhetri, now relieved of his international duties, spoke highly about the additions and his plans for the season.

"I want to improve with every training session and add value to the team. There is a lot of competition as you can see. Coach made it very clear that you have to work hard to grab your places.

"The knees are old, but I feel like it is a fresh start. I think I did the right thing (international retirement) at the right time and that has given me a lot of perspective. I want to enjoy, last couple of years have been very stressful. My desire to win is not going to change, but I will enjoy more, smile more, laugh more, more nutmegs," Chhetri quipped.

"I am a big fan of both (Lalthuammawia) Ralte and Rahul (Bheke). When you have brothers who have gone through ups and downs, who have been here, it matters. Very happy about our foreign signings. I am a huge fan of Noguera and Diaz. I think when you play against them you understand how lethal they are. I just hope they can bring the same energy and talent to us. Also Edgar (Mendez), big pedigree. I just hope that they find happiness, joy and camaraderie here which we will try our best to provide," the 39-year-old added.

Sunil Chhetri  at the Bangalore Football Stadium in Bengaluru on Sunday.

Sunil Chhetri  at the Bangalore Football Stadium in Bengaluru on Sunday.

Credit: DH Photo/ S K Dinesh

"I have no idea (How long I will play for). A lot depends on what value I bring to the team. I want to give the best to give this club," Chhetri signed off.

Chhetri also spoke about the T20 World Cup final, and congratulated the Indian cricket team for pulling off the triumph.

"It was wonderful. I love the fact that he (Virat Kohli) won the tournament and he genuinely wanted to win it. The tears, as a sportsperson, I can understand. I got to witness the final and when (David) Miller hit the ball, we all thought it was a six but what a catch by Suryakumar (Yadav). Kudos to the whole team. It is not easy to win World Cups, really happy for the team and especially for Virat. I wish him all the best, let him enjoy whatever cricket he plays," Chhetri said.

Published 07 July 2024, 14:25 IST

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