Pune: Bharat FC would be hoping for a turnaround in fortunes as they gear up to host Shillong Lajong FC in a Hero I-League round 18 tie at the Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex here tomorrow. Since holding Pune FC to a 1-1 draw at the beginning of the month, Bharat FC had lost 0-3 against East Bengal and then went down 0-2 against Mohun Bagan in Kolkata.
They are currently 10th in the league table with 11 points from 12 games while Lajong are tied with them on points but remain in ninth place by virtue of inferior goal difference. The side from Shillong played out a 1-1 draw against cross-town rivals Royal Wahingdoh FC in the previous round.
Bharat FC’s head coach, Stuart Watkiss, said though results have not gone his side’s way, he is confident of an upswing in fortunes. “A week is a long time in football. We committed a couple of mistakes and we got punished. But if you learn from these mistakes and ensure that you don’t repeat them, then you have gained something from those defeats,” he said. The lack of goals in the last two games is a cause of worry for Watkiss but he was upbeat that the scoring touch would reappear very soon. “Against East Bengal and Mohun Bagan we created a number of chances, good chances. Both those teams are good sides but our midfield and forwards were able to trouble them. I am positive that we will score goals and be much more dangerous in the attacking third,” he said.
The Lions’ head coach has his full squad for selection barring injured Adil Khan, J Prasad and Lester Fernandez. Shillong Lajong’s head coach, Thangboi Singto, expects a tough 90 minutes but is confident his team had enough in the tank to give Bharat FC a run for their money. “We did not have the best start to the season but we have improved now. We had a big win (6-0 v Mumbai FC) and that has set us up really nicely. There is renewed confidence in the team and as our recent results have shown, we are hitting our stride,” he said. Seminlen Doungel will be missing out on the match for Lajong due to suspension.