Dear Firstsportz family, here is an exclusive for you all ahead of the Indian Super League. The annual football festival of India, Indian Super League 2021/22, is all set to start from 19th November. With league just around the corner, here is part one of the “Exclusive with Carles Cuadrat”.
Carles Cuadrat was with Bengaluru FC for five years and formed an integral part of the title-winning team. Initially, the Spaniard joined as the assistant manager for Albert Roca under Bengaluru FC became a formidable side. After the departure of Albert Roca, Carles Cuadrat managed the side for 58 games across all competitions. After raking up big numbers and titles, he is known as one of the most successful coaches in the history of the Indian Super League. BFC managed to score 1.57 points per game during his tenure.
At present, the former Bengaluru gaffer is managing the Cyprus first division side, Aris Limassol FC. The side is off to a great start in the league, with five wins under the belt in eight games. The team finds itself in the third-place, which is dominated by AEK Larnaca at the moment. AEK Larnaca is on top of the points table with 20 points to their name.
Here is what the former Bengaluru FC man, Carles Cuadrat had to say in an exclusive interview:
Exclusive With Carles Cuadrat: How was your time in India in terms of football?
It was an unforgettable experience from start to finish. With BFC we managed to win a large number of Titles and develop many players who could be good professionals and some even reached the National Team. It was a pride that the team was chosen as the best sports club of the decade, ahead of giants such as the Mumbai Indians of cricket or the Patna Pirates of kabaddi. Spending almost 5 years working for Bengaluru FC makes me part of that great success, and I will keep it forever in my memory. On a more personal level, the team achieved under my mandate ISL records that still remain, such as the record of 6 games won in a row, or 2 whole years unbeaten at home. The connection with the fans was total, every 15 days it was a party for everyone to go to Kanteereva, and that is one of the things that makes you the happiest as a coach. The highlight was winning the 2019 Indian Super League Final and Regular League, something that will remain forever in the club's history.
Exclusive With Carles Cuadrat: What are your predictions for the upcoming Indian Super League? Which is the team to watch out for?
It seems that the teams and the organizers have once again made a great effort to compete again in really difficult conditions such as a health bubble that lasts for many months. It is not the ideal way to develop such an important sporting event, but at least it will allow fans to continue seeing their players in action and the franchises to continue developing their growth plans. That was one of the reasons I didn't sign to any ISL club this year, even I had several offers; I prefer to return to India, if I do, when it is possible to enjoy again the magic of the Stadiums and the atmosphere of the noisy Indian football fans.
Talking about the challenges for the team that are participating in the Indian Super League 2021/22, Carles Cuadrat said:
On a sporting level, I think there are many clubs that have very interesting challenges ahead of them. The double champion, Mumbai City, has to see how a young coach with no previous experience in the country adapts to the competition. It won't be an easy task. ATK and Goa come from their respective experiences in Asia. I think that Durand Cup success and their Champions League matches have positively reinforced Goa, but for ATK's the tough defeat against Nasaf, in a competition in which they had put a lot of illusions, serves as a revulsive or affects them negatively. It will also be interesting to see the bet from teams like Hyderabad, Kerala or Odisha, which have incorporated experienced players who already know the ISL. And of course we will all be on the lookout for the opportunity North East has given their Indian coach Khalid Jamil to become the first local coach to plan a season at an ISL club. Exciting challenges that I will follow with great interest from my current workplace, training at Aris Limassol FC in Cyprus. Although we are quite far away, you can be sure that I will see the games.
Exclusive With Carles Cuadrat: How is Bengaluru FC different from other teams? How was your time with the club as a manager as well as under Mr. Albert Roca?
Everything has gone very fast for Bengaluru FC. The club was only born in 2013, but from the beginning, it was an ambitious and winning team, and that is why the "6 in 6" titles was achieved in a few years of enormous investment in money and talent. Precisely Albert Roca and I were hired for that; create the best football team in India, and we were given a large budget to sign foreign players like Miku, Erik, Juanan and Dimas and top locals like Sandesh Jhinghan, Lenny Rodrigues, Mandar Rao, Rahul Bheke or Gurpreet and Amrinder. We managed to put together an almost invincible team, capable of only losing 3 or 4 games per season. The group won the 2017/18 and 2018/19 regular ISLs, as well as the Federation Cup and SuperCup competitions. But without a doubt, the jewel in the crown was the title of champions of the 5th edition of the ISL, under my command, in which for the first time a team won the regular league and the Final in the same year. This group of players created an Era in Indian football that will be remembered forever (Sunil, Udanta, Khabra, Nishu, Bheke, Gurpreet helped by the mentioned foreigners).
Talking about the mutual contraction termination, Carles Cuadrat also spoke about the change cycle that the club is going through. He also wished the side the best ahead of the league.
Since we mutually ended the contract last January, I see that the club has taken a very different path. He is enhancing the talent of his grassroots football and giving continued opportunities to very young Indian players. That's way they only won 2 of 11 games in ISL since I leave the club. It is a very respectable path, and I wish them all the success for the love I feel for the Club and people there, but as we see in multiple examples around the world, as is happening now with FC Barcelona, you cannot expect to win Titles from the first moment on when you do this type of bets. This asseveration was clear in the recent group stage of the last AFC cup 2021, registering only 3 foreign players, and the team could only finish behind ATK and Bashundhara Kings in that tournament and therefore not accessing to the last rounds for the Title as if we did in 2016, 2017 and 2018 when we had more experienced players. But it is something normal, and as long as the club knows where it is going and has a plan that makes its environment and fans happy, everything will be fine.
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