I-League: Bengaluru FC up for challenge from resurgent Mumbai FC
Mumbai: Bengaluru FC renew hostilities with Mumbai FC when they take on the island city club at the refurbished Cooperage Stadium, in Mumbai, on Tuesday.
While the Blues are coming into the game on the back of a dominant 1-3 win over Sporting Clube de Goa, Mumbai FC have won three games on the bounce and are within 3 points of the League champions, making the 7 pm kick-off one where neither team can afford a slip-up.
The teams have met twice last season where both results were draws (2-2 in Pune and 1-1 at Bengaluru) and Ashley Westwood believes that Mumbai FC will be anything but easy opponents.
"They’re in the middle of a good run and give everything they have till the final minute. Also, their coach has matured and doesn’t seem to be resorting to the negative tactics they are often accused of employing which makes it a good game to be part of. As for my team, a good performance is what I am concerned about, the result will take care of itself," said the gaffer after a light training session, on Monday.
Midfielder Joshua Walker, who failed to recover in time for the game against Sporting Clube, could be in the reckoning. "Josh has been put through the paces today and we will take a call on his inclusion on the morning of matchday," said Westwood. However, Bengaluru will be certainly missing striker Robin Singh who picked up his fourth booking this season in the win on Saturday, leaving him suspended from this tie.
While it may have taken a bit for them to get off the blocks, Sunil Chhetri and Sean Rooney are both among the goals which augurs well for the visitors. In fact, it was Rooney's brace that sealed the points in Goa and Westwood had no doubt whatsoever that the Australian would fire sooner than later.
"You need your big players to step up and deliver and that's exactly what Rooney has done," said Westwood.
Mumbai FC's return to Cooperage after a five-year gap didn't necessarily get off to the best possible starts but the Khalid Jamil-coached side have picked themselves up and strung a set of good results that sees them sitting on sixth on the table.
Japanese midfielder Taisuke Matsugane, a summer signing, has been pulling all the right strings in midfield while Brazilian striker Josimar Martins has been among the goals for Mumbai. But Jamil feels his boys will have a task at hand when they square off on the pitch.
"They are a stronger side physically and mentally and we need to play better to beat them," he said.