Free Press Journal

Chance for Bengaluru FC to consolidate in I-League


Bengaluru:  With little time for recovery, Bengaluru FC gear up for their third match in seven days as they host Mumbai FC in the I-League here on Tuesday, hoping to break the spell of three draws in the previous clashes.

The home team have had barely 48 hours to regroup following a punishing 3-3 draw with Royal Wahingdoh on Saturday after being twice in arrears while Mumbai would be still licking their wounds from the 0-6 drubbing they received from Shillong Lajong at the Cooperage.

Mumbai are placed mid-table with 13 points from 10 outings, three of which they have won in contrast to champions Bengaluru who are on 21 points, trailing leaders Mohun Bagan by three points.

In the event, Ashley Westwood’s Bengaluru would be hoping to head into a two-week break with a victory that should consolidate their position among the top three.

Presently, Bengaluru share second spot with Wahingdoh, who will also be playing a game on Tuesday against cellar-dwellers Sporting Goa. Bengaluru though will have the advantage of knowing the result of the Goa game which is slated for 4.30 p.m. while the match here is scheduled to start at 7 p.m.

With the league reaching the business end, every point and goal will count and Bengaluru, in just their second season after annexing the trophy on debut last year besides winning the Federation Cup, seem to be fast reaching their peak if their performance against Wahingdoh is any indication.

Although striker Sean Rooney is not as much among goals this season, they have found their heroes in a few young guns, notably Eugenson Lyngdoh and Shankar Sampangiraj.

In fact, Lyngdoh struck for Bengaluru during their 1-1 draw at the Cooperage last month when Mumbai managed to scramble to a 1-1 draw while their goalkeeper Nidhinlal kept the Bengaluru strikers at bay with a handful of saves.

“Every game we are playing at the minute, we are trying to win. This will be no different. Mohun Bagan haven’t lost yet, but as I’ve said, we can’t really rely on other teams beating them. We have to rely on ourselves. We have eight games left and if we win them all, I’m sure we will be there or thereabouts,” said Ashley Westwood.

Though Mumbai FC are coming on the back of a heavy loss, Westwood preferred to exercise caution.

“We haven’t seen the game, but 6-0 is a damaging score line. It may just have been a blip. They’ve been consistent in the I-League so far. They work for set pieces, have a long throw and are fairly direct so we’re not really looking at their last result. Instead, we’ll see what they are bringing in and will figure what we are in for,” the coach said.

“Mumbai FC are hard to beat and hard to break down. They are in a position where they need to win and a draw won’t do them any good. So, hopefully they will go for the win and it will be an open game.”

However, Westwood’s counterpart Khalid Jamil suggested his team would be happy to take back a point.

“I always tell the team that we have to win every game but tomorrow’s game is different. Even if we take one point from it, that is enough. The important thing is to forget last week’s result and treat this as a fresh start. Once the game begins and the confidence builds, we will see where it takes us,” said Jamil.