Bengaluru FC look to  end year on a high

Take on Goan outfit Salgaocar FC with an aim to further consolidate their position on top of the league table

Bangalore: Bengaluru FC will look to end the year on top of the table when they host Goa club Salgaocar FC at the Bangalore Football Stadium, in Bangalore, on Saturday. This is the second meeting between the teams in the League after Ashley Westwood’s boys battled to a 1-2 win at the Duler Stadium a month ago.

Bengaluru FC look to  end year on a high

Salgaocar may have dropped to sixth on the table since that game but Westwood isn’t using the standings as a measure of the visitors’ strength. “Salgaocar is a team with history and I am certain they are title contenders. We will have do all we can to try and match them,” he said .

In what is a much-needed assurance, central defender John Johnson returns to the squad after missing out in Bengaluru’s 0-2 loss to East Bengal last week. While the defeat may have brought a halt to Bengaluru’s unblemished no loss record at home, Westwood chose to see the bright side. “The morale of the team is good. If anything, the defeat was a relief in a way. The monkey is off our back and the team will play without any pressure,” said Westwood.

Salgaocar are on a run of their own but one they would be desperate to end. It has been six games since Derrick Pereira’s men have won a game and the chance to break the habit against the League leaders would work as added motivation for them. “We’ve had a good start to the season but things haven’t panned out as expected. We do need reinforcements and the January window will give us the chance to do that. We’ve played Bengaluru before and it without taking anything away from them, we played a bad game. But we are confident of putting on a better show tomorrow,” said Pereira who will be missing Karma Tsewang who looks like suffering a long lay-off with a knee condition.

Bengaluru will hope for Sunil Chhetri – who was on Friday named AIFF Player of The Year 2013 for the third time – to build on the goal scoring momentum he has managed to generate of late. The striker has six goals in his last four games and seems to be getting into perfect sync with partner Sean Rooney who has seven goals in the campaign this far. Salgaocar too have a strike threat in Scottish Darryl Duffy who is second on the scoring charts with eight goals, giving the game an interesting sub-plot.

Pune vs Bagan:

Pune FC will look forward to maintain their winning run against Kolkata sides in the Airtel I-League when they face Mohun Bagan AC at the Barasat Stadium on Saturday. Having won their two previous games (Mohammedan SC and United SC) this season, Pune FC is in line for a possible third.

Pune go into the game with a six-match unbeaten run against Kolkata sides, which includes the first-leg 2-0 win over Mohun Bagan at Pune. Adding up are two wins from last year — 2-0 against Pailan Arrows and the 3-1 win at Kalyani along with the 1-1 draw against United SC in Pune this year.

For Pune FC, interestingly, the venue will be the third this season after beginning at the Salt Lake Stadium, then travelling to Kalyani, and now to the Vidyasagar Krirangan, Barasat. The home side, in contrast, are under pressure and go into the game following a 0-1 home loss to Dempo SC.

Bagan’s recent struggles have been evident. So far, they have picked up just one win from their last eight league games. The poor run has dropped them to tenth place in the league table.With only eleven goals scored, Bagan are the lowest scorers in the league. In fact, four of these goals came in their recent 4-0 win over United SC. Apart from these goals, the hosts have netted only twice in the other seven games of their eight.

Sporting Clube de goa vs United FC:

Sporting Clube de Goa will eye the top spot in the I-League standings when they take on United Sports Club at the Duler Stadium. A win will take them to the top of the ladder, along with Bengaluru FC. Sporting Clube are placed second . They are just three points behind the leaders but the Spanish coach, Oscar Bruzon, said any plans to compete for positions can wait till February.

Sunil Chhetri named Player of the Year

New Delhi: Indian football captain Sunil Chhetri was named the 2013 AIFF Player of the Year by AIFF President Praful Patel during the Annual General Meeting. Chhetri, who had earlier won the Award twice in 2007 and 2011, was chosen the winner after voting by I-League Coaches at AIFF Headquarters here.

“It feels great and I am very thankful to all the Coaches for voting for me. But then I don’t take it too seriously. It feels good for a while and then you ought to brush it off and move on,” Chhetri said.”Sometimes Awards can make you complacent and if you become so, then it doesn’t take much time for your form to dip. “

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