Another strong test for BFC

STRONG FINISHER: Miku will be hoping to make it two in two when Bengaluru FC take on Jamshedpur FC on Sunday. DH Photo/ Satish Badiger

After getting off the blocks on the right note last weekend, Bengaluru FC face another tricky customer in Jamshedpur FC this Sunday in what promises to be another interesting yet cagey battle.

Other than Chennaiyin FC, Jamshedpur were the only side to beat Bengaluru at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium last season, a 90th-minute penalty from Trindade Goncalves securing three points for the visitors.

Jamshedpur, who go by the moniker Men of Steel, were as strong as that metal in defence in their debut season last year. They conceded just 18 goals last season — two more than the meanest defence (BFC) — but still couldn’t qualify for the semifinals because they weren't able to score enough goals — 16 — to win games.

At the end of the league phase, despite having such a good defence, they managed just seven wins while drawing five and losing six. Although finishing fifth is a creditable achievement in their maiden attempt, the management has aspired for more this season. They rang in some major changes in a bid to add creative teeth that would make them more adventurous.

They sacked Steve Coppell and replaced him with Cesar Ferrando, hoping the experienced Spaniard, former coach of Atletico Madrid and Malaysian club Darul Ta'zim, brings about the much-needed flair and verve to their football. They also roped in two attacking midfielders -- Mario Arques, a Villarreal academy player, and Australian great Tim Cahill, who is expected to start on Sunday. They also off-loaded two key defenders -- Anas Edathodika and Andre Bikey. 

All of those moves seemed to pay dividends when Jamshedpur started strongly against Mumbai City FC on October 2. But once Arques put them ahead in the 28th minute and Mumbai started to press hard for the equaliser, they slowly slipped back to their old defensive selves. 

"I don't like back and forth games. I hate it," said Ferrando at the pre-match conference, clearly signalling what fans can expect from them this season.  

Bengaluru, who love to keep the ball and have openly proclaimed that's how they like to play, have at times struggled against defensive-minded oppositions. While they pass well and are quite adept at moving the ball around, they find it tough to get the ball into the final third when teams choke them around that area.

Last week Chennaiyin suffocated them with a similar ploy. But top teams generally tend to find alternatives and BFC showed they have the ability to play direct when push comes to shove. They have the nimble-footed Udanta Singh, who can outrun anybody, and potent finishers in Sunil Chhetri and Miku.

BFC are also slowly getting accustomed to Carles Cuadrat's ways and the Spaniard predicted a tough battle on Sunday. "Jamshedpur now have a Spanish coach who comes in with a wealth of experience and there are four new Spanish players which changes so much."

Jamshedpur know they have a comparatively weaker defence this season but possess speedy wingers who can cause damage. BFC, on the other hand, have a good all-round side with a knack to find victories.

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Another strong test for BFC

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