Good evening everyone,

Welcome to matchday where we take on an in-form Jamshedpur FC as we look to pick up our second win of the season, and make all the good performances across these last few games, count. It’s going to be yet another challenge that we will take on with a lot of positive energy. We know we have to convert good performances into wins because that is what we deserve, and tonight gives us yet another chance to do this.

We know it was only a point that we took away, but I feel mentality, hunger, spirit and desire the team showed in coming back twice against a team like ATK Mohun Bagan last week, was special. We had three different goal scorers on the night and that does so much for the confidence of the team. It was nice to see Danish get his first goal, and it was a fantastic example of how the new players on this team are eager to take their chances.

It was also a good performance from some of our other youngsters in Roshan, Parag and Ajith. Siva too has done well in the games he has come in in. For me, these youngsters are very close to being at the level of some of the experienced boys on the team, and they know if they keep pushing like this, they will get their chances. This is the philosophy of the club and I am happy that we are able to stay true to it.

While we are only getting better with creating and converting chances, we need to get better at defending from set-pieces. The games are coming thick and fast, and we are constantly working on improving certain aspects of our game every chance we get.

Our focus shifts completely to the task at hand tonight. Like I mentioned, Jamshedpur are a side in form and have a very good options in attack. We played them twice in pre-season friendlies and know the kind of football they are capable of playing. We’ll look to use that experience to come up with a plan for them, and hopefully it is a success.

The next time I communicate with all of you through this column will be on the 30th of December. So, I would like to take this opportunity to wish all of you a very Happy Christmas. I hope all of you are around your families and loved ones during these times. For us players and staff, we are each other’s families and we are grateful for each other. Keep supporting us and we will look to make you proud.

Love,
Marco

The Big
Preview

FORM GUIDE

Bengaluru FC’s winless streak has now extended to six games. The Blues, who have had two draws and four losses since beating NorthEast United in the season-opener, sit tenth on the table. Marco Pezzaiuoli’s Blues showed improvements in their last game against ATK Mohun Bagan and will look to build on that result as the season progresses. Jamshedpur FC on the other hand have been in fantastic form, winning three out of their last five matches and sit comfortably in third spot in the League. Their last result was a very impressive 4-0 victory over Odisha FC.

CONSISTENCY

Irrespective of how the table looks, both teams have been yearning for consistency. Bengaluru FC and Jamshedpur FC have failed to win back to back games this season with the Red Miners suffering losses and draws between each of their victories and the Blues have failed to win since their first game of the season. The game will be a test of strength and mentality as Bengaluru and Jamshedpur will be desperate for three points with the season soon reaching the halfway stage.

FIRE UP FRONT

Bengaluru FC and Jamshedpur FC are packed with very talented frontlines. Cleiton Silva and Prince Ibara have been in fine form for the Blues, while Jamshedpur FC have built a solid striking force consisting of Nerijus Valskis, Jordan Murray and Greg Stewart who have all been among the goals. It looks like being a tough night for defenders on both ends and we’re predicting a high-scoring game at the Bambolim tonight.

TEAM NEWS

The Blues are without Naorem Roshan Singh who is currently serving a suspension after picking up a fourth yellow card of the season, against ATK Mohun Bagan. Leon Augustine and Musavu-King continue to miss out on footballing action as they recover from injuries. Midfielder Suresh Singh Wangjam will return to the squad after sitting out the last game due to the red card he received against FC Goa.

BFC
Squad

GOALKEEPERS

1
GURPREET SINGH SANDHU
30
Lara Sharma
43
Sharon Padattil

DEFENDERS

4
Pratik Chaudhari
5
Alan Costa
15
Wungngayam Muirang
16
Sarthak Golui
19
Ajith Kumar
27
Parag Shrivas
29
Yrondu Musavu-King

MIDFIELDERS

6
Bruno Ramires
7
Jayesh Rane
8
Suresh Wangjam
10
Iman Basafa
12
Danish Farooq
13
Ajay Chhetri
18
Rohit Kumar
22
Ashique Kuruniyan
25
Namgyal Bhutia
32
Naorem Roshan Singh
35
Biswa Darjee
40
Damaitphang Lyngdoh
42
Akashdeep Singh

FORWARDS

9
Prince Ibara
11
Sunil Chhetri
14
Harmanpreet Singh
17
Edmund Lalrindika
21
Udanta Singh
23
Cleiton Silva
26
Bidyashagar Singh
31
Leon Augustine
39
Sivasakthi Narayanan

JFC
Squad

GOALKEEPERS

32
TP Rehnesh
1
Pawan Kumar
31
Vishal Yadav
47
Mohit Dhami

DEFENDERS

30
Anas Edathodika
13
Eli Sabia
27
Karan Amin
7
Narender Gahlot
26
Laldinliana Renthlei
4
Laldinpuia
29
Peter Hartley
6
Ricky Lallawmawma
19
Sandip Mandi

MIDFIELDERS

14
Alexandre Lima
2
Boris Singh
3
Jitendra Singh
46
Gorachand Marndi
11
Komal Thatal
15
Mobashir Rahman
8
Pronay Halder
18
Ritwik Das
7
Seiminlen Doungel

FORWARDS

17
Farukh Choudhary
24
Greg Stewart
45
Ishan Pandita
10
Jordan Murray
9
Nerijus Valskis

Head Coach

Owen Coyle

‘I can’t put in words what I feel for the supporters of this club’

Starts Have Been Few And Far In Between For Ajith Kumar, But The Youngster Says He’s Been Learning Much Along The Way…

On his immediate targets and what it means to be one of the seniors in the younger group…

My immediate target is to play consistently and to play well. I have to focus on my training, give my 100% on a daily basis. I want to be able to give the coach some confidence and show him that I can do better in the games. It’s true that the team is a bit unstable defensively, we’ve conceded a lot of goals and haven’t been able to keep a clean sheet.

I want to help the team in defence so we earn clean sheets and start winning games. The main target at the moment is to get a string of good performances in and some wins, and hopefully make a push for the playoffs. There are a lot of younger players who need motivation and it’s true that playing with the seniors puts us under a lot of pressure sometimes. I try to encourage them as much as possible because it’s important to be motivated if you want to give your best on the pitch.

On dealing with tough results in the bubble…

Being in the bubble is very hard. And when the results aren’t going your way, it’s even harder. All of us players try to stick together, we motivate each other and we just want to make sure that all of us are doing okay because everyone is going through something.

The important thing is to make sure that no one is feeling negative, and to make sure that the vibes in the team are good. We’re in a bubble, we can’t meet anyone on the outside and so we try to relax as much as we can. Football is important, and that’s why we’re here, but it’s also important to stick together, especially when things aren’t going your way.

On the things he’s learned since joining Bengaluru FC…

There have been a lot of changes since I joined Bengaluru FC. I used to be immature and I never had an idea of what professionalism was. When I look at the superstars that are in this team and how they treat each other, their eating habits and everything, I learn something from them every day.

I’ve also learned a lot about how to talk to people and help them when they're in need because we’re in a bubble and things can get tough. I’ve been taught to be humble here, irrespective of whether you’re playing or not. I’ve also picked up what I need to eat and when, what’s good to consume before games and what’s not.

Since joining BFC, I’ve learned how to overcome pressure and fear, and the motivation I get from the club and management is good. When I make a mistake on the pitch, I’ve been told that the best thing to do is rectify those errors in the same game.

Is there undue pressure this season, especially on the young players?

I won’t deny it, there’s been a little pressure because the club wasn’t in this situation before. Bengaluru FC have always been on top and the going hasn’t been easy. Personally, I want to win every single match and bring home every single trophy we contest for.

But though these are hard times for the club and the players, there is no point trying to shy away from it. We have to face the pressure head on, all of us together, and try to make sure that we are the best version of ourselves out on the pitch.

On the Durand Cup, and wearing the captain’s armband in a prestigious tournament…

The Durand Cup gave a lot of us youngsters the opportunity to play consistent competitive football, and wearing the armband for that tournament was a milestone for me in my career. I’ve captained my academy team and even my school team and university team as well. Everywhere I’ve played, I’ve had the experience of being the captain and I was very happy to lead this team to the semifinal.

We still talk about those games and how we took no pressure in any of them. We enjoyed the rain, we enjoyed the matches, and the time we spent in the hotel; we basically enjoyed the entire time we were in Kolkata. And I feel honoured to have been the captain for that tournament.

On Coach Marco and the influence he’s had on the team…

I didn’t get an opportunity to start a game until about the eighth or ninth game last season, but this year I got to start in the very first game because Marco trusted me. I've spoken to him about my playing style and even expressed the desire to push up further into an attacking position.

He has used me in many different positions during the AFC Cup and made me play as a right-back. When I played in midfield in the AFC Cup, I even got an assist. He knows me very well and knows what’s best for me and what’s best for the team. Giving me the opportunity to express myself to the fullest is what will help me contribute as much as I can to the team.

On his message to the supporters…

At this club, the bond between the players and supporters is really good. When I came to Bengaluru FC, I already knew that all the games would be in a bubble and then we played all our games in Goa. And even though I haven’t been able to play in Kanteerava Stadium or had a chance to interact with our fans, they’ve made sure to send me messages on social media.
They text me after the match even if the result doesn’t go our way, they never stop supporting us. The other day I received a message from a supporter who said ‘Don’t worry, we will always be there for you’ and that really motivated me. I can’t put into words what I feel for these supporters.

We haven’t had the best start, but it’s only been seven games and there are still thirteen games to go in the season. I just want to request them to have a little hope and faith. Let’s see where we stand at the end of the season.

In these difficult times, it’s their love and support that makes us feel at home and motivates me and this team to do better.

BLUE
BROADCAST

Blue Colts share spoils with FCBU

Bengaluru FC faced League toppers FC Bengaluru United in a thrilling encounter at the Bangalore Football Stadium on Thursday in the BDFA Super Division League. The game ended in a 2-2 draw despite what could have been a memorable win for the Blue Colts. After going two up at half time, Bengaluru FC couldn't hold on to the lead, allowing Ronaldo Oliveira to spark what was a second-half comeback. Thoi could’ve bagged all three points for Sandesh Bhoite’s team only to see his hit ten minutes from time, rattle off the crossbar.

Academy shines at DPDL

The Bengaluru FC Academy started off in style putting six past Black Panthers FC in the first game of the season. Our Baby Blues picked up all three points in a 6-1 thrashing on the opening day of the Double Pass Development League. Bengaluru FC next face BOCA Juniors on Wednesday in what’s guaranteed to be a cracker.

KEY MEN
BENGALURU FC

Ashique Kuruniyan

Ashique Kuruniyan was a different player when Marco Pezzaiuoli decided to play him up front on the wings against ATK Mohun Bagan. Having played the majority of the season in the left-back position before the boss decided to switch things up tactically, Ashique Rose to the occasion by running at defenders and creating multiple opportunities down that left flank. After a tough start to the season, the Blues’ winger seems to be returning to top shape, and will be a handful for the Jamshedpur FC backline.

Suresh Singh Wangjam

Having served his suspension against ATK Mohun Bagan, Suresh Singh Wangjam will look to get straight into the team and prove himself once again against the Red Miners. The midfielder has been as energetic as ever and is not shy of putting in a rough tackle. El Torito is a menace in midfield and will look to disrupt any attack from Jamshedpur FC. Having been out against the Mariner, the Blues’ midfielder will be energised and ready for any challenge that comes his way on Monday.

Cleiton Silva

The man of the moment, Cleiton Silva has been Bengaluru FC’s ray of hope in what’s been a tough season so far for the Blues. The Brazilian forward has four goals and two assists in seven games this season. Averaging 0.57 goals per game, Cleiton Silva will look to get on the scoresheet once again on Monday and continue helping the team get their season back on track. With incredible technique on set-pieces and a lethal right foot, you can expect the Blues’ forward to score from different parts of the field.

KEY MEN
JAMSHEDPUR FC

Greg Stewart

Greg Stewart has created a massive impact for Jamshedpur FC ever since he joined the club, providing eight goal contributions in just six games this season in the Hero ISL. The Scottish forward has taken the League by storm and bullied defences at will. The striker is in red-hot form and has helped the Red Miners pick up 11 points from six games as they sit pretty in third position on the table. Bengaluru’s defence is yet to keep a clean sheet, and in coming up against Stewart, they will have their task cut out.

Peter Hartley

A defender who’s got a knack for scoring goals, the Englishman is a danger during set-pieces and has already bagged two goals from six games this season. Hartley will look to contain Cleiton Silva and Prince Ibara when the two teams face off tonight. A massive presence on the pitch with a voice that commands and rallies the team, Hartley spurred Jamshedpur to their first clean sheet of the season against Odisha, and he will be keen to build on the performance at the back.

Alexandre Lima

Alex Lima has been a shining light in the heart of midfield controlling the tempo of games and being a threat going forward, with his team on the counter. The Brazilian midfielder has a goal and an assist this season and will look to win the midfield battles against the likes of Suresh Singh Wangjam and Bruno Ramires. A disruptor of sorts, Alex Lima likes a rough tackle and loves to get on the ball.

FLASHBACK
FCGBFC

Jamshedpur FC 3 (Stephen Eze 16’, Seiminlen Doungel 34’, David Grande 41’)
Bengaluru FC 2 (Fran Gonzalez 62’, Sunil Chhetri 71’)

Bengaluru FC were out of contention and in a battle for sixth place when they took on Jamshedpur FC at the Tilak Maidan last season. Interim coach, Naushad Moosa rested several key players as Wungngayam Muirang and Lalthuammawia Ralte were handed starts.

It didn’t begin well for the Blues when Aitor Monroy’s free kick was nodded home by Stephen Eze to give the Red Miners the lead in the 16th minute. It went from bad to worse on the half hour mark when Seiminlen Doungel slotted past Mawia to double the lead for Owen Coyle’s men.

Jamshedpur were cruising comfortably and five minutes from the break, David Grande glanced another take from Monroy to make it 3-0.

Moosa’s side seemed to mount what was an uphill task when Fran Gonzalez snuck in at the far post to nod the Blues’ opener just past the hour mark, followed by a strike from skipper Sunil Chhetri, his 100th in Bengaluru colours.

However, Jamshedpur held fort to close out the points, leaving Bengaluru to finish the season in seventh place on the table.