MUMBAI: Bengaluru FC head coach Simon Grayson wants his side to build on the momentum as they take on Mumbai City FC in the first leg semi-final of the Indian Super League (ISL) 2022-23 season at the Mumbai Football Arena, in Mumbai, on Tuesday.
The momentum is certainly with the Blues as they head into the semi-final on the back of a nine-game winning streak, but face a tough challenge against the League Shield Winners in their upcoming tie.
Grayson's side is unbeaten in 2023 and became the first side to inflict a defeat on Mumbai City FC this season. They also beat the Islanders in the final of the 2022 Durand Cup. However, Grayson believes the current scenario is completely different and that small details can influence the result of the semi-final tie.
"The situation is a lot different from the Durand Cup pre-season game to when we went to (play) Mumbai, where we played four at the back. And then obviously to be the first team to beat them (Mumbai City FC) after such an unbelievable season was a real highlight for us," Grayson said in the official pre-match press conference.
"We've done well against them but previous games will count for nothing in these two-legged semi-finals. Now it's all about who handles the occasion well, gets the break, and gets the little bit of luck," he added.
Grayson's side had a number of highs over the last two months, securing their place in the ISL semi-finals after two seasons. The BFC head coach shed light on the mindset of the team ahead of the big tie.
"We've done our recovery session on Saturday and other players who didn't start (against Kerala Blasters FC) did some training as well. So, it's back to normal. Players have done well in the last game, but we haven't achieved anything yet. But again, we've to prepare, recover quickly, and go into two really, really tough games in good spirits. The confidence is there but we can't be overconfident. So, let's just go, enjoy, and keep to the process that we're playing well with," Grayson stated.
Bengaluru FC are playing the first game of the two-legged semi-final away from home which makes the tie even tougher for them. However, Grayson is hopeful that his side can produce a tough challenge for the home side and take the momentum with them into the return leg.
"The intention will be to win without a shadow of a doubt, but we have to make sure that if we concede a goal at any time, we don't lose our heads and concede two or three goals quickly because we have to make sure that we stay in the tie going into the second leg at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium," the Englishman said.
First-team centre-back Aleksandar Jovanovic went off injured against Kerala Blasters FC in the knockout tie, but Grayson is confident that the defender will be available for Tuesday's clash with Mumbai City FC."It was just a bout of cramps so I expect him (Jovanovic) to be fine and available (for the next game)," Grayson asserted.
The Shield winners will be looking to get into the groove after a long break while Bengaluru FC will be going into the tie having played an extra game. Grayson believes his players have shown a lot of belief to come to this position and mentioned that they'll be giving their all to get the best result from the game.
"Mumbai (City FC) will be re-charged after their break. But sometimes training and playing just keep you in the rhythm of what you're doing. We have trained, played, recovered, and played again for the last couple of weeks. The players are focused and the edge in the game against Kerala (Blasters FC) is also with us," Grayson stated.
"Maybe you can lose your focus when you don't play for 10-12 days. Again, Des (Buckingham) will be looking at all these factors and want to make his team tick," he added."We're giving ourselves the best preparation and I'm sure Mumbai (City FC) are doing the same as well," Grayson concluded.
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