Must-win game for BFC

Bengaluru FC players during a training session on the eve of their ISL semifinal second-leg clash against NorthEast United FC at the MEG ground on Sunday. BFC MEDIA

Bengaluru FC (BFC) will step out on Monday knowing nothing less than a victory would suffice as they look to reach their second consecutive Indian Super League (ISL) final.

BFC, who topped the league phase, were given a rude shock by NorthEast United in the first leg of the semifinal in Guwahati. Eelco Schattorie’s side recorded a 2-1 win to put themselves in an advantageous position for the second leg at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium here. 

A crucial away goal, however, has given BFC coach Carles Cuadrat some respite as he looks to overturn the deficit in front of the home supporters.

“We are in a good mood. We are ready for the game, training very well. All the players are healthy. We have a feeling that here in Kanteerava in front of our supporters, we can give them a night to remember,” said Cuadrat at the pre-match press conference here.

BFC have not been themselves post the winter break. The mistakes are creeping in and their struggle in front of the goal is hurting them. Against NorthEast, the Blues were totally outplayed in the first half. Only after injuries forced Bartholomew Ogbeche and Rowllin Borges off the pitch did the Blues pick up momentum.

Australian Erik Paartalu’s replacement Alex Barrera, on his first start for the club, failed to assert himself in the midfield. Miku too had his shooting boots missing. Captain Sunil Chhetri, who turned provider for Xisco Hernandez on the night, was one of the few bright performers.

The BFC coach admitted he was not pleased with the outcome of the last game. “We knew we had to get good results in Guwahati to come back here and fight in the second leg. If you’ve seen yesterday’s game, Mumbai had a plan but unfortunately, it didn’t work. It happens in football,” he said. 

BFC’s away form may be a cause of concern but, at home, they are undefeated. The Blues have won six games and drawn three in the league stage. “I am happy that we come here with a result that is not so bad. I am only unhappy about the end of the game where we conceded the penalty. We created good chances, so did they. It was the kind of game that we expected,” he said.

Schattorie, meanwhile, was confident of taking NorthEast to the final. “We have not come to get defeated, we have come here to win,” he said. “I know exactly how Bengaluru plays. They will know how we play. Last week, we completely dominated the first half,” he added.

Ogbeche and Borges, who have been crucial to their campaign this season, look certain to miss the clash due to injuries. The Dutchman appeared not too bothered by it. “We lost two key players and the second half became way more difficult. But it had a lot to do with changes within the team. We have just one thing in mind. We will go and try to reach the final,” he said.

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Must-win game for BFC

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