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ISL 2017-18: Albert Roca - 'Young Indian strikers are at risk in ISL'

9:01 PM MYT 02/02/2018
Albert Roca Bengaluru FC NorthEast United FC ISL 4 2017/2018
Bengaluru FC boss Albert Roca thinks ISL limits the opportunities for young Indian strikers...

Indian Super League (ISL) leaders Bengaluru FC take on reigning champions ATK in a crucial encounter on Saturday at the Salt Lake stadium, Kolkata.

The Blues travel to Kolkata on the back of a 2-1 win over NorthEast United in ISL and a 3-0 win over Bhutan's Transport United in AFC Cup. A win against ATK will take them closer towards a spot in the playoffs.

Speaking ahead of the game, Bengaluru coach Albert Roca suggested that they are not taking any side lightly. "Only ten days ago we lost a game in Delhi. There are no easy games. We want to win three points. Even though they (ATK) aren't having a good season, there is a possibility for them to make it to the semifinals. We need to be alert. It will be a tough game."

When asked to draw comparisons between the ISL and I-League, the Spanish coach said, "They are different competitions. We can play one more foreigner here. There was a draft (here), we lost some important players but I don't want to give excuses.

"Everybody had the same intention to make a good team. I am happy with the (current) squad. They are getting better and we have to adjust better until the end of the season to get top four, which is the first objective. We have to keep working."

Albert Roca fielded a second-string side in the two-legged AFC Cup qualifying round against Transport United. Fringe players like Daniel Lalhlimpuia, Thongkhosiem Haokip and Prashanth Kalinga got opportunities to play in that fixture.

On asked if the reserve players have a chance of playing in the ISL, Roca said, "Its painful for me. AFC cup is a good experience where they will grow. But the (ISL) rules are very clear. Strikers mostly are foreigners and young Indians are at risk.

"It is important for the federation to address this. Training is important but match experience is more important for these youngsters. A player of Daniel's (Lalhlimpuia) quality who plays for the national team is not getting chances. There is no point putting them in for two-three minutes. He is playing for the B team."

The two-time I-League champions have had a smooth run in their debut season in ISL. They are comfortably sitting on top of the league table and are one of the best sides in the competition. Unfortunately, Roca's men are yet to win three matches on the trot this season and the Spaniard thinks his side needs to improve on that front.

"We haven't won three games in a row. That will be the first target, now that we are close to the end of the season. We played good games but played very bad games too. (We) need consistency. (We are) working on that," said Roca.

Albert Roca confirmed that striker Braulio Nobrega has been ruled out of action for the rest of the season due to injury. Midfielder Dimas Delgado has a calf injury and is doubtful for the clash against ATK.