Blues Looking To Put AFC Cup Defeat Behind; Chhetri Back In Reckoning After Missing Tie Against Lao
Bengaluru FC will look to brush away an indifferent patch of form and mirror Ashley Westwood’s call to rally together and put up a positive performance when they host Aizawl FC at the Kanteerava Stadium, in Bengaluru, on Sunday.
The Blues have only just returned from an AFC Cup trip to Laos where, even after throwing everything and more at Lao Toyota FC for most of the second half, they had to return with a 2-1 defeat. But while the schedule may seem demanding given that Bengaluru played on Wednesday, Westwood looked at the positive side of things. “Fortunately the game against Aizawl has come quickly which means we can get the defeat in Laos out of our system. Our performance wasn’t too bad. We made one individual error and then got done in by a poor decision from the referee. But now it’s all about Sunday. The pitch is looking really good. So hopefully we can match it and put on a good performance.”
Bengaluru are currently third on the points table, two adrift of East Bengal and three off leaders Mohun Bagan and Westwood refused to make much of the gap. “We still have games left to play. We also play Mohun Bagan and East Bengal which means things are also in our own hands. One thing is for sure, Mohun Bagan are not going to win every game. So, it’s still tight and it’s only three points,” he said.
In the away leg against Aizawl in January, Curtis Osano prodded home a first-half goal at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium that proved just enough for Bengaluru who dug out a gritty performance to take home the points. But much has changed recently for the team from the North East who parted ways with Spanish coach Manuel Retamero, replacing him with Jahar Das.
“We have seen the game they (Aizawl) played against Shillong and that was with a new coach. He’s brought in a couple of new players. We have studied them as best we can. They have made a few tweaks to their system and hopefully we can come up with a counter and get the result we want,” said Westwood.
Aizawl have also rung in a transfer since the defeat against Bengaluru, replacing Atsushi Yonezawa with Nigerian striker Joel Sunday who was on target in their 2-0 win over Mumbai FC last week.
On the injury front, Westwood mentioned that Eugeneson Lyngdoh was two weeks away from any possible action while skipper Sunil Chhetri, who missed the trip to Laos with a sore groin, is back in the reckoning. “Michael Collins hurt his hand but he’s not a snooker player, so he should be okay. Sunil Chhetri comes back into the squad after having a little bit of rest and recovery. We have a few knocks and bruises but not anything that’s going to stop anyone from being available for the game.”
The game kicks off at 7 pm.