I-League: Bengaluru FC geared up for battle against familiar foes Salgaocar
Margao, Goa: Bengaluru FC resume their I-League commitments with a trip to Goa where they take on Salgaocar at the Nehru Stadium, on Saturday.
The Blues are coming on the back of two successive AFC Cup games where a mixed bag of results included an away 3-1 loss to Persipura Jayapura before beating Singapore side Warriors FC 1-0 at the Kanteerava Stadium, on Tuesday.
The game marks the halfway stage in the League for Bengaluru who know a win would give them breathing space on a table that houses a stuffy top-half.
Ashley Westwood will be buoyed by the return of skipper Sunil Chhetri, Robin Singh, Eugeneson Lyngdoh and Keegan Pereira – all of who missed the Blues’ last two games owing to national duty.
“It’s good to have the lads back. If you’re missing as many as four players, it is always going to be a loss. But I’d like to give credit to the rest of the players who turned up with a good performance on Tuesday.”
“That said, we are happy as a club to have contributed to the national team who came away with a good result. The fact that we had four players on the India team means we are doing something right,” said Westwood.
But while the reinforcements give the squad the depth it needs, Westwood says places in the starting XI will have to be fought for. “Our bench looks a little stronger but the competition for places is still fierce. There’s a minimum of 3 games in the AFC Cup and things in the League have started nearing the more serious end.”
In Salgaocar, Bengaluru have opponents who Westwood says they are familiar with. “As far as I can recall, Salgaocar is the side we have played the most over last season and now. We’ve played them twice in the League last season and this year, we’ve played them in a pre-season friendly, the Durand Cup and the Federation Cup.”
“They are a side we know well and one that we respect a lot. They have a good coach and are always there and about the clubs who have achieved things.”
The Derrick Pereira-coached team are sitting eighth on the table with 11 points and had to dig deep to come away with a 2-1 win over Shillong Lajong after playing most of the game with a man short. Meanwhile, three points would take Bengaluru FC to the top of the table, ahead of Pune FC and Mohun Bagan who have games on Sunday.