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Bengaluru FC shake off the dust as pre-season kicks off

Bengaluru FC

Bengaluru FC

Bengaluru FC, on Monday, kick-started their pre-season programme with a light training session in front of more than 100 fans who flocked to welcome the team at the Bangalore Football Stadium. Back after a two-month break from a successful season that saw Ashley Westwood’s boys win the Federation Cup and finish runners-up in the I-League, the Blues began shedding turf rust as the gaffer said his team would look to slip into the routine.

“It’s nice to see some fresh faces with the boys coming back in. We have done a lot of traveling to be back here so it’s just a case of familiarizing ourselves with the routine again,” said Westwood, speaking to the press after the session.

New signing Seiminlen Doungel joined the team while a delay in visa formalities means striker Kim Seong-Yong will land in the city in another three days. When asked whether the Blues would be adding to the armoury with new signings, Westwood said he is keeping his options open. “We’ve left ourselves maybe three or four slots to fill. We are talking to somebody who’ll come in tomorrow or on Wednesday. That will be another starting XI contender. We’re in a bit of a different situation compared to some other sides, we’re looking at players who can come in and affect an AFC Cup game.”

On being asked if the Bengaluru FC players’ participation in the upcoming Indian Super League would take a toll on the club’s I-League preparations, Westwood thought otherwise. “We’ve had two years to prepare for the ISL. The elite players in the country are prepared to withstand a 40-50 game season. They’re modeled on European players which is what our training techniques require. We played over 35 competitive games last year. We had a few friendlies as well, which makes it a 40 game season last season and we had almost no injuries. There are only 14 games in the ISL and 20 games in the I-League which leaves you on 34 games so they’ll be well prepared and it won’t affect us.”

The pre-season program that lasts a little less than a month could see BFC play a few friendlies. “We are in talks with an Indian academy side about playing a couple of friendlies in August. We’ve just got to make sure that any game we play will be a worthwhile experience,” said the gaffer.

In an immense show of support, the Blues’ faithful arrived at the stadium prior to the training session, setting up banners and chanting the team bus on its way in. “It feels great to be back. I was in the dressing room when I heard the fans singing outside and it gave me goosebumps. I knew at that point that West Block A was back,” said striker Robin Singh, who scored 9 goals for the Blues last term.