BENGALURU: FC Bengaluru United head coach Richard Hood has welcomed the decision to hold the I-League qualifiers in September but said it will "demand a ruthless mentality" due to a long period of inactivity amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 2021-22 season of the I-League will be held in Kolkata and will see a total of 13 teams compete for the trophy.
A maximum of 10 teams will be participating in the I-League qualifiers, with all the matches to be played in Bengaluru.
Commenting on the All India Football Federation's decision, Hood said, "All of us at the club are grateful for the opportunity to get back to the game and compete.
"Our immediate task now is to re-assemble the squad, assess their conditioning level, and begin preparation for the I-League qualifiers in September."
FC Bengaluru United will be hoping to carry forward the momentum from their championship-winning performance in the BDFA Super Division earlier this year.
"Our shared experiences that have delivered success in the BDFA Super Division have created a strong sense of belief and reliability in our players, our processes and our environment.
"Having said that, we are aware of the level of football in the Qualifiers and the ruthless mentality that tournament football demands. There will be a major reset in our approach to build on what we have so far," Hood added.
Hood emphasized the team's overarching ambition to qualify for the I-League and said that all the focus in the coming months will be directed towards this objective.
Touching upon the plan of action, Hood said the priority will be to "focus on practice games and any competitive fixtures that we can secure in the next two months."
"That will be the biggest accelerator towards building cohesion out on the pitch and also the truest test of where we stand and in understanding the gaps we need to address.
"The training program and everything within it is geared towards the singular outcome of winning in terms of our performance and result on the scoreboard," he added.
FC Bengaluru United will be looking to capitalize on their home advantage in the qualifiers and make the cut for the I-League, which is scheduled to kick off in December.