Saturday, September 21, 2013

We’ll go out and enjoy the game: Ashley Westwood

Telecom giant Airtel’s association with I-League brought a breath of fresh air in Indian Football, Bangalore Football Stadium is sporting a new look thanks Jindal Steel Works-Bengaluru FC’s association with Indian Football. Amidst all positives, football is back in the Garden City. 

Round 1 – Bengaluru FC vs. Mohun Bagan – game on…

Talking to the press, Bengaluru FC gaffer, Ashley Westwood spoke highly about his team’s fitness level after strenuous 10-weeks of pre-season camp. They managed to see few match videos of their opponent from last season, but that might not help them much as 13 out of the 18 players in the current Bagan squad in Bangalore are new recruits. 

Team spirit is something the Steelmen is banking highly on. Any specific concern with the team? The graduate of the Manchester United Academy response was straight, “We are not Manchester United, nor we have players like Messi, we perhaps need to improve in all areas”. 

The message from the newly entrant I-League team is loud and clear – there is no expectations from the team, just go out and enjoy the game, and give fans an entertaining game! 

Mohun Bagan has hit a bumpy patch at the starting of the season, they’ve lost points in their last two encounters in Calcutta Football League. Winless before starting I-League, will that be a concern for Kareem? The Moroccan who has already spent seven seasons in I-league compared the journey of 1000 km, whereas Mohun Bagan has just completed 10 km. 

Kareem agrees that the journey has not begun in a smooth fashion, this has been a wakeup call for the team, and can do better from here. The big challenge lies for him is to transform this team to a cohesive unit. Team’s influence, on and off the field, Odafa Okoli is out injured for the first few matches in I-league.   

Kareem showered praise on Bengaluru FC management, “These guys brought a lot of professionalism in Bangalore Football, which is a rarity among the other I-League clubs. I’m quite impressed the way the stadium has come up.” 

He is quite happy that the Garden City, in spite having a football culture, didn't have any regular I-League team. The career path among the city footballers were limited, very few have courage to pack their bags and go outside. Fortunately now, Bengaluru FC will be giving them the space.