Bengaluru FC’s head coach Simon Grayson feels it will boil down to who handles the pressure well in the all-important first-leg semifinal against Mumbai City FC at the Mumbai Football Arena on Tuesday.
The Islanders had won 14 matches out of the 20 they had played in the league stage and remained unbeaten for the first 18 matches. Their winning streak was ended by Bengaluru FC, who recently defeated them by 2-1.
On the other hand, Simon Grayson’s team is in red-hot form. They have won their last eight matches, which is their best winning streak in the history of the ISL. But they will know that they will have their work cut out against League Shield Champions, Mumbai City FC.
“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.
The Blues have ticked the right boxes in 2023 as they are yet to be beaten in the year. Grayson added his players are confident to do well against Mumbai City FC.
“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.
Grayson added that the aim of the team will be to win the game but doesn’t want his players to lose their heads if they concede a goal.
“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.