BFC eager to put on a good show

BFC eager to put on a good show

Bengaluru FC's Sunil Chhetri works out during a training session on the eve of their match against Kerala Blasters. BFC media

After a rather slow start to the season, Bengaluru FC finally found their scoring touch with a dominating 3-0 win over Chennaiyin FC here, just before the international break.

Now another Southern rival Kerala Blasters come knocking on the door of the Fortress as the Indian Super League resumes at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium here on Saturday.

Bengaluru are fifth in the table with six points from four games, while Kerala are seventh with four points.

Carles Cuadrat's side, playing with newcomer Manuel Onwu -- Miku's replacement -- struggled for goals despite enjoying good possession, drawing their first three encounters against NorthEast United FC, FC Goa and Jamshedpur FC respectively. 

Looking to address the issue, Cuadrat took a chance against Chennaiyin and fielded an Indian front three leaving Onwu on the bench. It paid rich dividends as Ashique Kuruniyan and Udanta Singh wreaked havoc on the wings and Sunil Chhetri broke his goal-scoring drought.

The return of commanding Australian midfielder Erik Paartalu too provided a major boost as he gave the team the balance it lacked while giving Dimas Delagado and Raphael Augusto the freedom to play more offensively.

"Augusto has been a great player to have in the side," said Paartalu at the press conference here on Friday. "He's a player we can go to. He creates something out of nothing. He's been in the league for a while now and he's won some titles and he makes my job a lot easier." 

However, against Kerala, Cuadrat may have to weigh the risk of fatigue for Indian players, who were on international duty. Onwu is likely to return to starting XI while Kuruniyan may be shifted back to the left-back position. 

For now, the Spaniard is keeping the cards close his chest. "There are two ways of looking at the fact that my players went on national duty. I like to look at it from the perspective that my players are staying active and learning new things," said Cuadrat.

A full house is expected on the match day and Paartalu is eager to put on a good show. "There are a lot of people who live in Bengaluru who are from Kerala, so it adds a bit more to the rivalry. It's important for us to put on a spectacle," said the Australian.

Meanwhile, Kerala coach Eelco Schattorie is looking to get the season back on track after two losses (against Mumbai City and Hyderabad FC) and draw (Odisha FC) derailed his side's good start after a win on the opening day against ATK.

Although he didn't share the details with regards to the injuries of Mario Arques and Gianni Zuiverloon, Schattorie clarified the situation regarding Brazilian defender Jairo Rodrigues, who was confirmed to miss rest of the season later in the day.

"Jairo arrived with an injury, it did not show right away. He played his first game in Dubai, there was a scan made which showed a third-grade meniscus. I give only praise for his character, he had a good attitude on the field.

"But that led to a hamstring injury, it can be solved, but the meniscus injury is a problem. Hopefully, it will be solved. He is still with Blasters."

Despite the setback, Schattorie said his side will give their all in the game on Saturday. With captain Bartholomew Ogbeche in attack and the craftiness of midfielder Sahal Abdul Samad, Kerala - who have struggled to put on definitive performances this season - can always turn on the heat.