Round ten of the I-League, back after a fifteen day hiatus, will pit Bengaluru FC and Sporting Clube de Goa against each other with both teams in the midst of a top of a table battle for third spot in the league. The Flaming Oranje will consider this as the opportune moment to crush the Bengaluru FC revival spirit, while the home side will be pre-occupied in ensuring the win gets them on solid ground to fight for the title again.
Bengaluru FC’s away form has been shoddy for a team aiming for the absolute heights in the league, with them having garnered just a solitary point in their travels away. This match though, will be fought on their home turf, where they have been impenetrable winning four out of the five they have played.
The form of Sunil Chhetri will be key, with the Indian skipper having recently broken the long held tally of Bhaichung Bhutia to become the national teams’ top goal scorer. Ashley Westwood, British coach of the Bengaluru based side, will be hoping he can transcend that form into the domestic end where he has scored just two goals so far with one being from the spot. Robin Singh will also be hoping for an extended run in the squad given his contributions to India recently against Nepal.
Beikhokhei Beingaichho has been a revelation on the right so far and his team will be hoping he can put in more crosses into the box as he has done in the past. John Menyongar, a centrifuge in the middle of the park will hope to churn his side on as Sporting will relentlessly look to attack through the middle. Darren Caldeira is certain to miss the tie with a niggle.
“The results may have not gone our way but the performances have been good. On another day, the outcome of those games could have been different. But that’s done now, it’s finished. We are focussed for the game on Saturday," said coach Ashley Westwood.
Sporting Clube de Goa, managed by Spaniard Oscar Bruzon, arrive in a similar mind set as that of Bengaluru FC. The fourth placed side know they can leapfrog the newly formed Steelers in a quest to assert their rising dominance.
Their last league game against East Bengal ended in a draw much to the chagrin of the coach, as they conceded a last minute goal. However, spirits will be high nonetheless as they have been recently crowned the champions of Goa’s Super League on account of a Churchill forfeit in the title decider. Form is on their side as well having won three of their five ties in the I-League.
“I have watched a few of their matches this season, they are a good side but I believe we have enough ammunition to come away with the three points,” said Bruzon.
Dawson Fernandes will miss this tie on account of a knee injury he has suffered in the national training camp after being called up to the India squad. Another Sporting star in Victorino Fernandes, who recently made his national team debut, will look to kick on.
Arturo Garcia has been quite unplayable in midfield and he will look to carry on from where he left off against East Bengal. Stephen Baretto and Joseph Pereira haven't travelled with the squad.
These sides have never faced each other and it will be quite interesting to see the set-up they use to counter each other. Gumption will tell you that all-three points are a go for Sporting, yet the threat of a recoiling Bengaluru will see them start on the back-foot. Expect a classy riveting encounter.
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