Bengaluru FC head coach Ashley Westwood has said competition for places in his side this season is at an all-time high. The 2013-14 I-League champions start their campaign in the domestic league of Indian football this season on Saturday, 9 January.
They face Goan side Salgaocar FC in an away game.
BFC have been terrific ever since their I-League debut. Winning the league in their first season itself, and then going on to finishing second in the second season, really says a lot. Westwood's men narrowly lost out to defending champions Mohun Bagan in a thrilling encounter on the final day of the league last year.
Looking ahead to I-League 2015-16, Westwood says Bengaluru FC can field two seperate teams this time, and both will be equally strong.
"In year one we only used 13 or 14 players. Last season we used 16 or 17. Now, we've got 23 outfield players, excluding the three goalkeepers, of which most have got a real chance of being in the first 11, which makes us a bit stronger and a bit more competitive," Westwood told reporters on Tuesday. "There are about seven or eight players fighting for three positions up front".
The Blues have roped in some new faces this time, and Westwood says the plan was to make the team stronger than ever. He added that the likes of Alwyn George, Kim Song Yong, Len Doungel, and Amrinder Singh, can bring the competition inside the squad like never before.
"We brought in the new additions who can get goals, and bring some more quality in the midfield. The players brought in are good technically, and also has the right attitude. They also fit in the system well, and thus far, nobody has disappointed us," Westwood said.
"It's just a case of how you prepare and recover. The work we did before the Indian Super League has stood the players in good stead. We did a lot of conditioning before they went and not one Bengaluru FC player got injured in the ISL, which I don't think many clubs can say. We prepared them well for the ISL and we'll prepare them well for the I-League," he added.