Bengaluru eye top spot

Bengaluru eye top spot

Reigning champions Bengaluru FC have their job cut out when they take on Salgaocar FC in their penultimate home game of the season here at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium on Sunday.

With the table toppers Mohun Bagan going down to bottom placed Sporting Clube de Goa 2-1 on Saturday, a win against Salgaocar would mean the Ashely Westwood-side leapfrog Bagan to the top spot.

Bengaluru are placed second with 32 points, while Bagan — also with 32 points — occupy the top spot on a better head-to-head record. On the other side, Salgaocar, who come on the back of a dismal show against Royal Wahingdoh, are placed seventh in the league with 17 points against their name.

Earlier this week, Westwood made his intentions clear about the title race when he rested most of his regular starters for the AFC Cup tie. The move also gave assurance that his team will not allow any slip up in their quest to retain the league title.

“We are expecting a tight game. Result wise one would say that they (Salgaocar) haven’t given us a tough time. But out there, they have always made it difficult. So it will be a tricky game that we have to win,” he said.

“We have three games left and we haveto win those if we have to be in serious contention. Salgaocar is one of the oldest clubs in India and they are good at what they do. They make it really difficult, they are hard to break down and they defend really well. We are not taking this one lightly,” he added.

Westwood will have a fully fit squad at his disposal for the tie and is expected to fall back on his reliable men with skipper Sunil Chhetri and Sean Rooney forming an attacking trio with Udanta Singh.

Attempting to halt the champions this time will be an experienced mastermind Derrick Pereira. While Pereira admitted that his team has not been performing to its full potential, he was sure that it was just a matter of a few games before they get back to their winning ways.
And a narrow 0-1 loss to BFC in their pervious tie will have imbibed a sense of belief in his side ahead of Sunday’s tie.  “I know that we are in the wrong end of the table now,” admitted  the Salgaocar coach.

“But we still have a few games to go. Like I said, if we stick together and give our best we will soon be back to winning games. We need to take our chances especially in tomorrow’s game. We know that Bengaluru has one of the best defences in the league. We will have to make the most of the chances, (convet) the half chances if we are to make the tie count.”
The visitors will hope that their Ivory Coast import Douhou Pierre continues his goal scoring exploits as he is expected to marshall the midfield with Scotland’s Darryl Duffy being the lone forward.

It will also be interesting to see how the Salgaocar back-four led by Augustin Fernandes and Francis Kasonde of Zambia shape up against Bengaluru FC’s relentless attacking prowess.
DH News Service

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