BFC brace up for Federation Cup

BFC brace up for Federation Cup

They might be the leaders of the I-League but that doesn’t make Bengaluru FC automatic contenders for the Federation Cup beginning next week in Kerala. 

Four groups, 16 teams and the proverbial ‘it’s about who performs better on the day’, cup competitions are different from the rigour of the league season. A corner there, a bad tackle here and suddenly you lose against lower-league opposition. Either that, or you could easily find yourself in a group of death.  Sunil Chhetri expressed the same sentiments during a pre-departure media interaction here on Saturday. 

“Four to five months back, all the talk was Sporting (Clube de Goa) and East Bengal were favourites (for the Cup). Now, after looking at our performance, they are calling it the Group of Death (BFC are in Group B along with Sporting, East Bengal and Rangdajied),” Chhetri said.  “We haven’t set ourselves any targets. Because if we start thinking on those terms, we are only putting pressure on ourselves,” he explained. 

In a free-wheeling discussion where the Indian skipper talked about how he has adapted to moving from central striker to a left-wing position to his memories of playing the game in Kerala, Chhetri revealed his loquacious side. 

“All my life I have played as a striker and suddenly when I was looking to cut inside from the left wing, I wasn’t all that happy with it but I’m enjoying it now. I’m getting the hang of it,” Chhetri said. The evidence that he is getting used to the position after a few months of indifferent performances lies in the fact that he has scored nine league goals already this season. 

“Since we play one up top and there were three people (Sean Rooney, Robin Singh and myself), it’s not good because two of those three are going to sit out. The boss (coach Westwood) choose me and hopefully I can continue,” Chhetri said. 

Speaking about the Federation Cup, Chhetri wasn’t too pleased about its current incarnation. “The Fed Cup is a big tournament and it should be played on a home/away format. We have just two big tournaments – the League and this. So it’s better if the Federation Cup is spread over. But all that is done. We just have to go to Kerala and give our best,” Chhetri signed off.  

I’ll stay, says Westwood 

If reports in the English press are to be believed, Bengaluru FC coach Ashley Westwood is a wanted man. 

It appears that a couple of clubs, including Bury FC – the club where former India captain Bhaichung Bhutia played for a brief period – have shown an interest to take the former Manchester United academy player back to his homeland but Westwood himself is relaxed about the situation. 

"I have seen the interest and am aware of certain things. But as far as I'm concerned, I am going to be here for the long haul," Westwood said. 

 "I am really happy at this club and a lot of work is still to be done. I have been here for six months and that is nothing.... It is not tempting to go back because of the ambition and the desire of this club to go places and that's where my head is at the moment. I have not done nearly enough at the minute."

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