Upbeat Bengaluru play Rangdajied

Upbeat Bengaluru play Rangdajied

Home team look to register first victory

Upbeat Bengaluru play Rangdajied

After being held to a 1-1 draw against Mohun Bagan thanks to a late C S Sabeeth header, Bengaluru FC face fellow I-League newbies Rangdajied United FC here at the Bangalore Football Stadium on Sunday.

While the stoppage-time equaliser prevented BFC from having a dream debut, they would have still been delighted about their first day out alongside the big boys. A near-perfect start, a capacity crowd and promise of more to come.

The hosts probably should have won the game and they were made to pay for being profligate in front of the goal. But coach Ashley Westwood doesn’t view it like that.  “I have no problems with my forwards missing chances as long as they are getting chances to score. It means we are doing something right,” said Westwood.

One problem that Westwood will have is the integration of forwards Sunil Chhetri and Robin Singh in the starting line-up. Both the players missed a chunk of pre-season because of their national team commitments but they are the sprinkling of stardust that any team would crave for.

They were second-half substitutes in the opening game and a potential forward line of Sean Rooney — who opened his account against Bagan — Chhetri, who looked off-colour in the recently concluded SAFF championships, and Robin is one to look forward to. 

The hosts’ midfield already has a settled look with Liberia’s Johnny Menyongar and Malenganba  Metei being clever with their passes and playing the percentages.  

While there are no injury worries for BFC, they will be without the suspended Thoi Singh who was sent off in the last game. It will also be interesting to see how the new goalkeeping coach Dejan Milosevic, who was already in the thick of things putting Bruno Colaco, Pawan Kumar and Ricardo Cardozo through their paces on Saturday, figures in the scheme of things. Rangdajied lost their opening match against United SC 2-0 and will be keen to get off the mark.

The visitors know all about the stadium and the local conditions. It was here they went on a five-match winning streak, including a memorable 3-1 victory over Mohammedan Sporting on the final match-day, in the second leg of the I-League second division that enabled them to win promotion.

The side’s coach Santosh Kashyap, who has previously managed Air India, Mohun Bagan and ONGC among other clubs, did concede that the knowledge of the city was an advantage. “It is an advantage that we played the games here but now we have a new team, a new coach (laughs) and perhaps a new style of play. Also weather-wise, the conditions are pretty similar.” He was also effusive in his praise for BFC and their professional outlook.

“This (BFC) is the environment every club should build. They have lots of talented footballers who play good football. And the club also has a professional outlook,” added Kashyap.  Defender Lamine Tamba, who joined the outfit from defending champions Churchill Brothers, has a fitness problem and is a doubt for the game.

  On paper, BFC look too good and too classy for Rangdajied, who are essentially playing in the first division with a second division squad, but they still need to get the job done.

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