BFC, Bagan renew rivalry

Football I-league : Bengaluru side will look to Chhetri to boost their attack

BFC, Bagan renew rivalry

In what is being touted as a grudge match of sorts, Bengaluru FC will take on familiar foes Mohun Bagan at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium here on Saturday.

Bengaluru had one hand on the trophy on a rainy Sunday in May last year but their dreams of retaining the I-League crown were shot to dust as Bagan’s experienced defender Bello Rasaq headed home in the 87th minute as his side clinched a vital draw and with it the trophy.

The two sides will be taking on each other for the first time since that match and while the crowds will be hoping that revenge is exacted, Bengaluru coach Ashley Westwood insists that it is just another football match.

“It’s just another match for us. Football is football, no grudges. We never lost, we only drew. Granted that this is one of the more eye catching fixtures of the season but our approach will remain that same.”

It would be fair to say that Bengaluru and Bagan are front runners to clinch the championship making Saturday’s fixture a proverbial six-pointer even though the visitors hold a slight edge having played two games fewer.

Both coaches were divided in their opinion of how the match could play a pivotal role in shaping the title race.

“It is a big game since we are facing one of the title contenders but this will not determine the outcome of the league.

“We are still at the half way stage with eight games and 24 points still at stake so I don’t really think this is a make or break fixture,” opined Westwood.

On the other hand, Bagan coach Sanjoy Sen believes that the match is key a fixture in the ongoing season.

“This a very important game when you consider the title. That being said, be it home or away, three points is what we always target.”

Bagan remain the only unbeaten team in the league thus far but having never beaten Bengaluru on their home turf, Sen said that it was definitely going to be a challenging match up.

“It will be a tough match for us, no doubt about it. Bengaluru have been the most consistent team in the last three years and they are a very good side in every aspect of their game, be it defensively or on the attack.”

Bengaluru skipper Sunil Chhetri along with Kim Seong Yong will boost their firepower up front while the dependable Curtis Osano and John Johnson will marshal the defensive line.

Rino Anto, who had a fantastic outing in Bengaluru’s win against DSK Shivajians two nights back, will be one to watch out for as he makes his wily runs and provides from the wings.   

The dangerous trio of Sony Norde, Cornell Glen and Jeje Lalpekhlua will lead the front line for Bagan while Pronay Halder and the experienced Luciano Sabrosa will try to keep the Bengaluru attackers at bay. Rasaq though will be missed after he moved to bitter-rivals East Bengal.

South Korean Katsumi Yusa, who was man of the match the last time these two sides met, will be a threat to Bengaluru’s defence with his trickery and creative flair.

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