With their play-offs berth already confirmed, Bengaluru FC will be rotating their squad against ATK in their final match of the Indian Super League (ISL) league stage on Saturday.
Bengaluru boss Carles Cuadrat said that the club is prioritising the upcoming AFC Cup play-off second leg clash against Maziya SRC and the ISL play-off match over the dead-rubber clash against ATK.
“We reached from Maldives today (Friday) morning, that is not a lot of time to rest but at the same time, it is not the most important game of the season. We have already reached the play-offs so we are going to take it easy because we have three finals in the coming weeks.
"First against Maziya on February 26. It is an important clash as we want to make it to the group stage then we have the ISL play-offs against ATK or Goa. We are going to give a break to our players and we will give a chance to our young players like Parag (Shrivas) to start the game. We will have seven players tomorrow starting for the first time this season.
“I think we can afford to concede such games. If you see at the starting of the season, one might have thought that we will have to fight against Kerala Blasters and ATK in the last two matches for a place in the play-offs. But no we have already done the job. We can afford to get 0 points from both these games and still make it to the play-offs. So it says a lot about the consistency of the team. We are the only team who have a 100% play-offs record. We have made it all three times we played.”
When asked if he was disappointed about not topping the league stage and making it to the AFC Champions League, the Spaniard said, “No, no, not at all. I have to congratulate Goa for their achievement. They have done a very good job. If you remember, we were superior to Goa in Fatorda, we were winning 0-1 but a mistake in extra time cost us the points. It is the only time Coro scored against us, otherwise he never scored against us. They were crucial points in the season and we've dropped points in big moments.
“Of course it was something we were wishing but at the end of the regular season, the team who is there at the top is because they have been doing the right job. In the last two seasons, we were at the top of the league, we were the team for ACL but unfortunately, the new rule is happening now. We have to accept it and try to work hard for the next AFC Cup.”