Carles Cuadrat pulled no punches in his assessment of Udanta Singh's performance in Bengaluru FC's win over FC Goa on Friday. The 23-year-old winger, one of BFC's main attacking outlets, was withdrawn at the interval following an ineffective first-half display.
"He has to learn," said Cuadrat afterwards. "That's the reason I got Udanta out. It's not the kind of game he has to play."
Udanta had failed to do his job both in attack and defence, the BFC head coach felt.
"All the challenges he had, he lost. Every one. To press [the player in front of] him, he lost. In attack, I asked him to go one against one and go. But he was not at the level he can show. I was talking to my players that I needed 11 warriors in the game and he was not doing that kind of game. So we got another solution. We have to try to help him and to [make him] understand that he has to make the level or there will be other players in front of him in the line-up," said Cuadrat.
This has been a difficult season for Udanta. He has one goal and no assists from 11 games, during a campaign in which BFC has struggled to score. He has managed fewer shots on target than defenders Nishu Kumar and Juanan.
These are poor returns for a player who last season scored five goals and produced three assists, and in the 2017-18 campaign finished joint-top of the assists charts (7).
Last season, Udanta started 19 games; only one outfield player, Juanan, started more. In the current season, he has started every one of BFC's 11 matches. He is a vital presence on the wing for both club and country, a high-profile player. Friday evening was the first time Udanta had started an ISL game and was substituted off inside an hour, since BFC joined the league in 2017. It was a surprise and a half.
Part of the reason for Cuadrat's disappointment, it appears, is that he has such high expectations of Udanta, a player whose evolution into a goalscorer the Spaniard was delighted with last season. "He is a great player and he has to give a lot to the team," he said on Friday.
Sunil Chhetri agreed with that view.
"The coach was probably angry because we expect so much from Udanta," he said. "He's our main guy. That's the reason why he (Cuadrat) got a little miffed or angry. But you will see Udanta bouncing back. He doesn't need me or anyone to tell him. He's one of the most if not the most important player of our team. We all have bad days. He will bounce back. In the coming matches you will see an improved Udanta. The whole country knows what he's capable of."
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