The Spanish boss believes that the penalty awarded to ATK was a contentious decision…
The Blues were the favourites to go through when Ashique Kuruniyan had put them 2-0 up on aggregate. However, they ended up leaking three goals which allowed the home side to pick a famous win and book a berth in the ISL final.
During the league stages, Bengaluru FC scored more goals than Hyderabad FC and NorthEast United which more or less highlighted their poor run of form in front of goal.
Coach Carles Cuadrat opined that while he wished to keep some of the best foreign players in his squad this season as well, he had to let them go as their budget was surprisingly curtailed after they won the ISL last year.
“You have to pay for goals. This is football. My suggestions were to maintain the team. but for business decisions, we lost Mikuand Xisco (Hernandez). Raphael (Augusto) got in but he could play only nine games. (Manuel) Onwu could play six games. But it shows how good the team is. There was a Plan A but with Plan B, we remained one step or just one goal away from a final. (Albert) Serran and Nishu (Kumar) were missed today. Without the penalty, we would have been in the final,” said Cuadrat.
With Bengaluru FC having missed out on a chance to play in the AFC Cup and not being able to make it into the final of the ISL, Cuadrat was asked on what would be his message to the club’s board as they look to review their campaign and make plans for the next season.
“We have plans to keep going. We have to talk with the management. The direction that the club is taking next season. Football is growing in India. ISL is a great competition. There is up and down. We are a new club and this season can be a learning lesson for next seasons. We lost to Mohun Bagan (on the final matchday in the I-League), lost a final against Chennaiyin FC and today we did everything we can but could not reach the final,” stated Cuadrat.
The Spaniard opined that the penalty won by David Williams was a 50:50 decision and that he had asked his players not to get drawn into making body contact with the opposition.
“It has been one of those games that will help Indian football grow. Sometimes it happened in favour of us. Unfortunately, it did not happen today. Maybe it was not one of the top-quality games. We wanted to get at the back of the central defenders. It was working. We had more clear chances than ATK.
“The penalty changed the game for ATK. That moment they were not creating many chances. ATK players have a lot of experience and they got the penalty. I told them to avoid body contact. He (Suresh Wangjam) is a young player. For me, it was not from the bench,” he mentioned.
Bengaluru FC were left to rue to their missed opportunities as substitute Kervaughn Frater was through on goal but Arindam Bhattacharya pulled off an easy save.
“We created good chances. Frater had a clear chance one-on-one against the keeper, Sunil (Chhetri) heading one straight into the hands. One of the scenarios was we keep the score at 2-1. But we tried to make it 3-2 in our favour.
“We got a few corners. We tried our best. It was a game of little margins. Now we are out because of one goal. They made a great effort. They have worked a lot throughout the season. It creates a kind of dynamic and if we had that good finishing then 2-0 and game over. But it is part of football. Little margins and we are out of Asia and now ISL.”