ISL 2017/18: Bengaluru FC coach Albert Roca disappointed with Miku's injury, happy that newcomers stepped up
Bengaluru FC beat FC Goa 2-0 at the Kanteerava Stadium on Friday night to not only extend their lead at the top of the ISL table but also seal a playoff spot thanks to their 8-point lead which assures them of a top-four spot.
Goals from Edu Garcia and Dimas Delgado saw the home side take revenge on the Goan side that had beaten them 4-3 earlier this season in what was the Blues' first loss of the season.
"I am very happy for everybody - especially those who haven't played too much. They've not only proved today that they are also important to our squad but they have also proved that they deserve to be here.
"It was not easy today. This morning we got the report that Miku would not be available for the game. He had a problem with an overload of the muscle. We'll know more tomorrow when the doctor takes a look and ensure us that this is not a big problem.
"It's not serious but everyone was a little disappointed. In my plans, to be honest, I had chosen Miku to play today because he was playing well. But three games in a row like this can pose a problem so we have to take care of him and others like Udanta [Singh]."
Semboi Haokip started the game up front with Miku absent and he kept the Goa defence busy with his runs while he also jostled hard with the defenders to win the ball back whenever possible.
He was replaced with 20 minutes to go by Boithang Haokip who played in a deeper role while Sunil Chhetri moved up top to play as the lone striker as the Blues defended the lead.
"The newcomers came in and they proved themselves," Roca said. "They were fighting for each ball. We have a good dynamic going.
"I'm also happy for the supporters who came today to support us as always and they go home with a big smile."
Will Roca rotate and experiment now after sealing a playoff spot?
Bengaluru have only three league games left before the playoffs but they also have a two-legged tie in the AFC Cup coming up against TC Sports from the Maldives. So will Roca rotate the squad and play those who haven't had many opportunities yet?
"I think they are very important," he explained. "With three games coming up, we are more comfortable and we can prepare with the players we want [to use].
"But at the same time, we cannot lose the 'tension'. For sure, it is important to keep winning and keep working as we did. Let's see if we can continue like this."
With five wins on the trot, has Roca finally found the balance in his squad?
"By now it does seem so," he said with a smile. "But you know that every game can be different. We need to keep adjusting for different teams.
"It was not easy to keep a clean sheet today against Goa who are the best goal scoring team." Goa have scored 29 goals in 13 games - now second-best after Bengaluru made it 30 goals this season - but the Blues have played two more games than the Gaurs.
"I'm happy we are winning but we have to stay grounded and humble."
Bengaluru's next ISL game is against Pune City at home on 16 February but they first travel to the Maldives for the AFC Cup game on 13 February.