Blues look to keep building as Kerala come calling

Blasters To Miss Nhamoinesu With Suspension; Bheke, Brown Doubtful Starters With Minor Muscle Strains

Bengaluru FC will look to extend their unbeaten start to the Indian Super League and log three more points on the table when they take on Kerala Blasters at the Fatorda Stadium, in Margao, on Sunday. Carles Cuadrat’s men are in fourth position on the table with six points and a win against their rivals from the south could provide them with some much-needed impetus before they take on Odisha, ATK Mohun Bagan and Jamshedpur later this month.

The Blasters, meanwhile, have had far from an ideal start to the season, sitting ninth on the table with two draws and as many defeats. Their last result – a 3-1 defeat to FC Goa – also came at the cost of Kerala’s Zimbabwean centre-back Costa Nhamoinesu who was sent off and will miss Sunday’s fixture against Bengaluru.

“Kerala Blasters have two points, and they need more on the board which makes them tough opponents. We have a match plan and we will fight for the three points like we always do. I feel bad for the supporters because it is the kind of game where they give us something extra and enjoy a lot. The atmosphere in the stadium, both at the Kanteerava and in Kerala, was great. It is not going to happen this season but I am sure it will be a game of passion like it normally is when these two sides compete,” said Cuadrat while addressing the media ahead of the game.

Bengaluru might have squandered a 2-1 lead to share points with NorthEast United earlier in the week, but Cuadrat had more than just a few positive takeaways from the game. After relatively quieter outings in the opening two games, the Blues seem to have hit a rhythm that’s familiar to them.

“We have been improving game after game. We played better against Chennaiyin FC than we did against Hyderabad FC, and we did better against NorthEast United than we did against Chennaiyin FC. Week after week we are moving towards our best.”

While the Blues aren’t faced with any disciplinary sanctions, Cuadrat mentioned a couple of his players are dealing with minor niggles ahead of the game. “We have a full squad and we have to make decisions, and as a coach, I can have a lot of different combinations which is a good thing. This week we have little muscle problems with Rahul Bheke and Deshorn Brown. Everyone else is ready and we will try to put our best team on the pitch against Kerala Blasters.”

The game will also be the first time Nishu Kumar comes up against the Blues where he spent five successful seasons before opting to sign for Kerala at the end of last season. Kickoff at the Fatorda Stadium is scheduled for 7.30 pm and the fixture will be telecast live on the STAR Sports Network, Disney+Hotstar and JioTV.