Without head coach Carles Cuadrat and their technical staff, former champions Bengaluru FC on Thursday began their pre-season training at the Inspire Institute of Sport in Bellary for the upcoming Indian Super League.
As many as 29 players reported for the training camp. Having made their way to the north Karnataka district after three rounds of testing here and one at the IIS in Bellary, the team and staff quarantined for four days before beginning their training.
With the club's foreign contingent still awaiting their visas, first-team Indian assistant coach Naushad Moosa and the rest of the Indian staff have been looking after the sessions. They are in constant touch with Cuadrat and the rest of the technical staff, who are in Spain.
"We would have liked to begin our pre-season with a complete team – that includes foreign staff and players, but given the situation with visas and travel, this was a hurdle we saw coming and had planned for it in advance," said club CEO Mandar Tamhane.
"This is Naushad Moosa's fourth season with the club and that's a big advantage. The moment we received an indication from the league about the season beginning in the third week of November, we went about planning to ensure our pre-season begins on time."
With the club's new signings joining the squad in Bellary, the pre-season is also being used as a chance to assess as many as nine youngsters who have travelled as part of the team's reserves setup.
"What we are in the middle of is not the most ideal situation, but it is one we have little control over. However, our work at the club doesn't stop, and we have been in touch with the players and the coaches on what we expect from them," said Cuadrat.
"I have been in touch with the management with regard to scouting for players, arranging pre-season games and other aspects. Importantly, we are working every day to ensure that we can join the team as soon as possible," he added.
With the ISL season set to kick off in November, the Blues expect a three-week pre-season training stint in the state-of-the-art Inspire Institute of Sport campus, ahead of a trip to Goa, where their home matches will be played at the Nehru Stadium in Fatorda.
"As players, we've been impatient and excited to train together and you can feel the energy among the boys in Bellary.
"We've all been training independently for too long now and were waiting to begin our pre-season. I cannot wait for the rest of the boys and the coaching staff to join us soon," said goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu.