I-League: Bengaluru FC set for Mohun Bagan battle
Bengaluru FC return to the Saltlake Stadium on the back of three solid wins when they play Mohun Bagan in Kolkata on Friday evening. The reigning I-League champions shrugged off a slow start to the campaign to move to third on the table and a win against Mohun Bagan could take the Blues to pole position should Mumbai FC beat leaders Royal Wahingdoh in Friday's other game.
Ashley Westwood was pleased with the way his team went about things in the 2-0 win against Shillong Lajong FC last week despite playing most of the game with 10 men but said that the boys were focused on the game against a good Mohun Bagan side. "We played (Mohun) Bagan in the Federation Cup and though the game ended a draw, it was a good and solid team that we came up against," said Westwood at the pre-match press conference.
Though he has often voiced his opinion about past results meaning little, Westwood will remind his team about the fact that they are yet to be beaten by the Kolkata club in all competitions. The last time the teams squared off in the League, goals from Thoi Singh and Sean Rooney gave the Blues a 0-2 win at the Saltlake and Bengaluru FC would be keen on turning up with a similar performance.
Bengaluru FC will be without central defender Curtis Osano who was sent off in the win over Lajong and N.S. Manju is expected to partner John Johnson at the back instead.
Quizzed about whether Sunil Chhetri not being among the goals was a worry, Westwood made little of the observation. "He is our best player and is in the best phase as a player with us at Bengaluru FC. If that means other players scoring because teams are focusing on blanking him out, it doesn't worry me."
Mohun Bagan played out a 1-1 draw against East Bengal Club in the Kolkata derby on Tuesday and coach Sanjoy Sen will have hoped his team has recovered for Friday's game. Burly Cameroonian striker Pierre Boya, who scored on the night, will partner with the quick Sony Norde and how they stack up against a stubborn Bengaluru FC defence that hasn't conceded a goal in three games, will make for an interesting subplot to the game.