BFC look to halt swift slide

BFC look to halt swift slide

fun time: BFC players train at the Bangalore Football stadium on the eve of their clash against FC Goa. DH Photo/ B H Shivakumar

Bengaluru FC look nothing like the team that took the Indian Super League by storm before the winter break. They hadn’t lost a game and were on top of the table with a comfortable six-point lead over second-placed Mumbai City FC December last year. 

Upon resumption, the Blues’ campaign has gone off the rails. In the last five games, Carles Cuadrat’s side have lost three (Mumbai City, Chennaiyin FC, Delhi Dynamos) and drawn one (Kerala Blasters). The one match that they won was against NorthEast United at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium last month.

This sudden dip in form also saw BFC lose their pole position to their opponents on Thursday, FC Goa, who are on a cruise mode, after recording back-to-back wins over ATK and Kerala Blasters.

Both Goa and BFC have 31 points. The former leads the table on better goal difference.

With a spot in the play-offs already confirmed, coach Cuadrat sees the setback as a learning experience. “It can be a lesson. It is a good moment to learn from the defeat.

“As a club, we have reached that target for two seasons, our only two seasons in this League, without having an all-or-nothing moment. Now we have two games, and we have to take it with a positive mentality,” he added.

The Spaniard has been testing the bench strength in the last four games. Skipper Sunil Chhetri came in as a substitute and scored against Delhi Dynamos, but still couldn’t save his side, blighted by frailties in midfield and a leaky defence, from going down.

“We have been conceding goals in the past few games, we’ve been losing. We are also strong enough to get the goals and draw,” admitted Cuadrat.

The absence of Erik Paartalu, who is out for the remainder of the season due to a knee injury, could also jeopardise BFC’s chances.

The Australian midfielder had been a vital cog in their quest for the title this season. “We had players like Dimas (Delgado), Xisco and Luisma instead, but none of them has the strength that Erik does. We do have the option of bringing in a replacement and we will be exercising that,” said Cuadrat.

Defender Albert Serran is also suspended after collecting four yellow cards.

Rich form

Goa coach Sergio Lobero, meanwhile, is treating the encounter like any other game. He is banking on his side’s rich vein of form to see them through.

“We all go through better and worse momentum. BFC are a great team with a great coach. I am waiting to see the best of them. I am not worried about BFC’s approach. I am only concerned with my team,” Lobero said.

Forward Ferran Corominas, who leads the league’s scoring chart with 14 goals, is eagerly looking forward to the clash.

“Definitely it will be a good game. We are the top two teams with the same number of points. I think its a game that no player wants to miss. We will go for all three points,” said Corominas.