Bengaluru FC conducted its open training session at the Bengaluru Football Stadium to kick off its 2019-20 season.

New signings Ashique Kuruniyan, Raphael Augusto, Manuel Onwu and Suresh Wangjam joined Eugeneson Lyngdoh as head coach Carles Cuadrat put them through the drills. Over 150 supporters thronged the venue to catch a glimpse of the stars.

A total of 23 players participated in today’s training session, with only Sunil Chhetri (illness) and custodian Prabhsukhan Gill missing out. The Blues also introduced Assistant Coach Oriol Lozano, the only new member in the club’s backroom staff.

“My message to the players and the supporters is the same from last season — we have to take it step by step. We have to achieve the results game by game and target the playoffs without thinking much about defending the title. There are 10 teams playing and all these teams want to become champions at the end of the season. We have to give our best and try to fight for our objectives. We have to be as competitive as Bengaluru FC has been in the past, but at the same time, be grounded because it’s going to be more of a mental challenge this season,” Cuadrat said.

‘Don’t expect an easy season’

Despite missing the on-field training session, captain Chhetri, still recovering from a fever that kept him out of action for India, was pumped up for the new season, “This year we have strengthened the squad with some key additions in different areas. That means we will have a healthy fight for all the positions and nobody will be guaranteed a place. Every player will be pushing each other, and that’s a good team to be a part of. We have been consistently fighting for trophies over the last six years, but that doesn’t guarantee anything for the new season. Yes, our aim is to fight for the title; but there are nine other teams vying for the same. So, we don’t expect an easy season at all.”

Bengaluru FC will train in Bengaluru before heading to the BFC Residential Training facilities in Bellary on September 23rd for the second leg of pre-season.

The club plays its first Indian Super League contest of season on October 21, against North East United.