Blues Look To Keep Unbeaten Momentum Going While Eyeing The Chance To Go On Top; Miku, Delgado To Miss Fixture
Bengaluru: After a flawless show on the road where they picked up 12 points from four games, Bengaluru FC finally return to home comforts when they host bottom-placed Delhi Dynamos at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium, in Bengaluru, on Monday. In what was a tough phase of consecutive away fixtures, Carles Cuadrat’s Blues turned up with fantastic performances on all parts of the pitch and now remain the only unbeaten team in the League this season.
But while a win over a struggling Delhi could send Bengaluru three points clear of FC Goa in the battle for pole position, Cuadrat believes the Blues are up against a side who are very close to turning a corner. “Delhi are the only team to yet register a win and that’s what makes them a dangerous opposition. They will be trying harder than ever when they come up against us, and we need to enter this game by turning a blind eye to where both teams stand on the points table. What will encourage us is the fact that we are returning to play at home after a gap that almost stretched to two months. It’s been tough but we’ve done well and now we’re excited to play in front of our supporters,” said Cuadrat, on the eve of the game.
Cuadrat, who missed midfielder Erik Paartalu (toe) and striker Miku (ankle) in the win over FC Goa, has a bag of mixed fortune with regards to the return of the two key players. While Paartalu has resumed training, Miku continues to recuperate from his injury. “Erik has begun training with us and we will assess if he can be part of our plans against Delhi. Miku is a certain miss,” informed Cuadrat. The Blues will also be without playmaker Dimas Delgado who is serving a one-game suspension for his sending off against Goa last week.
“Yes, these are key players who we will be missing, but the team showed against Goa that everyone is willing to put their hand up and take more responsibility. I don’t expect that to change. Everyone trains with an attitude of wanting to help the team when called upon and we will need that once again when we take on Delhi,” said Cuadrat.
The injuries meant Bhutanese striker Chencho Gyeltshen was handed his first Bengaluru start while Xisco Hernandez slotted in at midfield. It will be interesting to see how Cuadrat manages the second vacant slot in the middle owing to Delgado’s absence.
Delhi have been finding the back of the net only to concede late in games, much to the anguish of coach Josep Gombau. They went ahead twice against FC Goa only to go down to an Edu Bedia winner in the 89thminute. Even against Jamshedpur, they showed fight to come back from a goal down and score two before a Tiri finish saw them share points with the César Ferrando-coached side.
Bengaluru meanwhile, have been clinical in attack and stingy in defence, conceding the least number of goals (five) this season. New signing Albert Serran has wasted no time in forging a formidable partnership with Juanan Gonzalez in the centre of defence while Rahul Bheke and Nishu Kumar aren’t shy to help out with the attack. Gurpreet Singh Sandhu too has been reassuring in goal.
The game also marks skipper Sunil Chhetri’s 150th appearance for the club across six seasons and all competitions and Cuadrat lauded the feat. “Sunil has been a tremendous influence on the club for the last six years and the fact that he is on the brink of his 150th appearance should tell you all you need to know about him. He is a fantastic person and professional and we’re all proud of what he has achieved. We hope we can get the result we need to make the occasion even more special,” said Cuadrat.
The game kicks off at 7.30 pm and will be telecast live on the STAR Sports network, HotStar, Jio TV and Colors Kannada Cinema.