High-on confidence Bharat FC take on in-form Mumbai FC in round 8 of I-League
A high-on-confidence Bharat FC side will take on Mumbai FC in a Hero I-League round eight clash at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex, Mhalunge-Balewadi on Friday. The match will kick-off at 7 pm and will be telecast live.
Bharat FC are fresh from their first ever I-League win and will be hoping to replicate their performance from last Sunday. The Lions managed to down Goan powerhouse Salgaocar FC 2-0 with Subash Singh and Kris Bright scoring a goal each for Bharat FC.
Mumbai FC are also on a winning spree, having won their last two matches. Last Friday, Mumbai FC defeated Royal Wahingdoh FC 2-1. Bharat FC are currently 10th in the I-League standings with their five points from five games. Mumbai FC are a couple of rungs above, sitting in eighth place with seven points from six games.
Bharat FC completed a rigorous training session on Thursday morning with head coach Stuart Watkiss keeping a keen eye on proceedings. Before the Salgaocar FC game, Watkiss had said that this stretch of three home games was perhaps the most pivotal part of Bharat FC’s season and the win against Salgaocar FC could not have come at a better time for the Englishman.
“We played well against Salgaocar. I was pleased by how we never panicked in the game. We scored off the two chances we got and then defended very well. Sunday’s result has set us up nicely and we are looking forward to working hard against Mumbai FC and put another positive result under our belt,” he said.
Though Bharat FC managed to garner their first three points on Sunday, the match ended with the home-side reduced to 9-men. G Vignesh and Dharmaraj Ravanan will be suspended for Friday’s match after picking up a couple of yellow cards each and Watkiss knows that he has a challenging job on his hand, putting out a strong team against Mumbai FC.
“Both Vignesh and Ravanan are important players. However, I am confident that our bench has enough depth. The lads have been working hard, a few are on the fringes of the first team and these suspensions allow them to stake a claim for a regular place. The new players need to grab this chance and use it as a springboard,” said Watkiss.
Defender Bikramjeet Singh, picked in the India under-23 probables on Wednesday, comes into the match-day squad. Tricky winger, Dipendu Dowary, has also found a place in the 18-man squad to face Mumbai FC. Bobby Hassell, who was substituted after suffering a knock on his left big toe against Salgaocar FC has not recovered and is set to miss Friday’s game.
Mumbai FC arrived in Pune on Thursday and coach Khalid Jamil was confident of his team posing a tough test to Bharat FC on Friday night. Mumbai FC did not start the season in strong fashion, but two wins at home out of three matches have put them in a strong position.
Jamil said that he expected his players to thrive on the confidence that the two wins at home had given them and put out a typically aggressive performance.
“We have played some really good football over the last two weeks. Beating Salgaocar FC and then defeating table-toppers Royal Wahingdoh FC has done our confidence a world of good. We had a bit of a wobble in the beginning but that’s behind us now. We have a fully fit squad for selection and I am expecting my team to trouble Bharat FC tomorrow,” he said.