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BFC eye chance to extend lead

Arjun Ganesh, DH News Service, Bengaluru Feb 8 2018, 22:20 IST

A red card for Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Bengaluru FC fighting back to level at 3-3 and then Ferran Corominas' hat-trick sealing it for FC Goa were the standout images from an intense Indian Super League encounter at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Margao, in November.

It was an enthralling affair that saw BFC fall to their first defeat of the season and Albert Roca's men will be out to settle scores when they take on Goa in the return leg at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium on Friday.

Since that loss to Goa and a couple of patchy results in December, Bengaluru have bounced back well and wear a more settled look. The home side will be buoyed by the fact that they are on a four-match winning streak and a win could see them open up an eight-point lead over FC Pune City, who though will have a game in hand.

Reflecting on the 3-4 loss in Margao, Roca said: "I remember that game very clearly. It was really strange. We came up against a very good team but had our chances as well. I'm not very sure of the circumstances under which they won.

"Tomorrow it will be a football game against a very good and difficult team. It will be great for the spectators, so I hope it will be a normal game," he added.

The Blues were dealt a blow with Spaniard Braulio Nobrega suffering a knee injury during training and has been ruled out for the season.

"He has an injury that makes it really difficult for him to play any further part in the competition. We are looking for a replacement and have time till February 15," revealed the BFC coach.

Though the striker will be missed, it may not be a massive hit considering the red-hot form of Venezuelan Miku and Sunil Chhetri. The duo has been prolific in front of goal netting as many as 20 times with Miku netting 11 of them. But with the side sitting pretty atop the standings and almost assured of a place in the semifinals, Roca divulged that he could explore the option of rotating the squad.

"We have a tough calendar so I will look make a few changes. Considering we have the AFC Cup play-off first leg four days later, we will need to keep the squad fresh."

After an explosive start to the season with goals galore, Goa have been a tad inconsistent and are sixth on the table. But one man that stands out is the league's top-scorer Corominas with 13 goals from just 12 games. With Manuel Lanzarote and Mandar Rao Dessai also coming in on the back of strong performances, BFC's defensive line-up will have their task cut out.

Goa assistant coach Derrick Pereira assured his side weren't concerned about where they are on the table and were intent on getting a good result. "Our focus is on the game and not on the points and where we are positioned. Bengaluru are a well-settled team with good depth so it will be a tough game."

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