Bengaluru look to secure playoff berth against in-form Chennaiyin FC

Bheke Returns From Injury In Must-Win Fixture For Both Sides; Khabra To Miss Out With Suspension

Chennai: Bengaluru FC Head Coach Carles Cuadrat said that his side would do well to be wary of a spirited Chennaiyin FC side when the two sides meet at the JN Stadium, in Chennai, on Sunday. Bengaluru, who return from a trip to Bhutan where they defeated Paro FC 1-0 in the first leg of an AFC Cup Preliminary Stage Two clash, will look to build on the momentum they’ve generated since the beginning of year where they have won five out of six games, with a win guaranteeing them a place in the playoffs of the competition for a third season on the trot.

“It’s clear that there’s a new spirit in the Chennaiyin team since the new coach came in. There’s more creativity in their side and they are scoring a lot of goals and defending well. They are in a good dynamic at the moment, but as I’ve said before, every time you win a game you are that much closer to losing one,” Cuadrat said, addressing the media ahead of their trip.

Owen Coyle’s men are on a run of four consecutive wins, their latest a 6-3 result over Kerala Blasters last week. With three points seeming a compulsion for both sides, Cuadrat said that it bodes for an exciting encounter. “They are playing for a spot in the playoffs, and we want the points as much as them because we are fighting to finish on the top of the table. We are not going to rotate our players and I’m sure it will be a good game of football, because both teams are going to play for the victory.”

The Blues will be without Brazilian midfielders Raphael Augusto, Eugeneson Lyngdoh and defender Rino Anto, who continue their return from injury, while Harmanjot Khabra serves a suspension after picking up his fourth yellow card of the campaign against Hyderabad FC. However, Rahul Bheke makes a return to the squad after having sat out with a strained groin.

While the Blues do boast the best defensive record in the League, Cuadrat’s men will do well to deal with the advances of Lithuanian striker Nerijus Valskis, who leads the top-scorer charts with 12 goals. It remains to be seen whether Bengaluru’s new signing Nili Perdomo is handed a start in Cuadrat’s plans, with the Spaniard having featured in the midweek encounter in Thimphu.

The game kicks off at 7.30 pm and will be telecast live on the STAR Sports Network, and Hotstar.

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