×
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Sparks will fly as BFC host Blasters

There is no love lost between the two sides in a rivalry which has had its fair share of flashpoints, chief of them being the 2023 ISL Eliminator at the Kanteerava, which prompted the Blasters to walk off and forfeit the playoff exactly a year ago.
Last Updated 01 March 2024, 19:43 IST

Bengaluru: With their backs firmly against the wall in the quest for a playoffs berth, Bengaluru FC take on Southern rivals Kerala Blasters at the Sree Kanteerava stadium on Saturday. 

There is no love lost between the two sides in a rivalry which has had its fair share of flashpoints, chief of them being the 2023 ISL Eliminator at the Kanteerava, which prompted the Blasters to walk off and forfeit the playoff exactly a year ago. 

BFC, currently ninth on the league table with 18 points, have blown hot and cold under Gerard Zaragoza. Blasters, who were contenders for the League Shield, have slipped to fifth place but remain in the playoff spots with 29 points. 

BFC will hinge their fortunes on midfielder Javi Hernandez, who returned to scoring ways in the Blues' 2-1 win over Hyderabad FC last weekend. 

January signing Oliver Drost has linked well with Hernandez and Aussie Ryan Williams in attack, and although Sunil Chhetri has lacked sharpness in front of goal, his understudy Sivasakthi Narayanan has been a lively presence. 

Centre-back Aleksandar Jovanovic, who missed the Hyderabad clash following a concussion, could replace Montengrin Slavko Damjanovic at the heart of Bengaluru's defence, and the Australian will be vary of Blasters' red-hot forward Dimitrios Diamantakos.

Diamantakos, who has ten goals to his name this season, has ensured that Ivan Vukomanovic's men do not miss their talismanic midfielder Adrian Luna, who suffered a season-ending knee injury. 

Lithuanian Fedor Cernych opened his tally for the Blasters in their 4-2 win over FC Goa, and the partnership of Cernych and Diamantakos, along with Japanese wide-man Daisuke Sakai, will aim to exploit the weaknesses in BFC's back-line. 

A fired up Zaragoza addressed the media in the pre-match press conference on Friday, and outlined that his unit are well prepared for the upcoming clash. 

"I don't really need to tell these boys about emotion, the players are ready to play brave and compete. They know exactly what it means to play this game against this club," he said. 

Zaragoza pointed out that the Blues are a formidable side at home, and that they need to make the most out of the three remaining home fixtures. 

"A lot of people are talking about us, they don't respect BFC - they don't respect Kanteerava. They need to know that out of the last 12 points, we've taken 10 at home. They are saying this is not the Fortress, and that's far from the truth," Zaragoza said.

ADVERTISEMENT
(Published 01 March 2024, 19:43 IST)

Follow us on

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT