Simon Grayson’s Men Keen To Make Winning Start As Bengaluru FC Face Deccan Warriors In Kozhikode
Bengaluru: Bengaluru FC will look to begin their 2023 Super Cup campaign on a winning note when they take on Sreenidi Deccan FC in the opening match of Group A, at the EMS Stadium, in Kozhikode, on Saturday. Simon Grayson’s Blues will take to the pitch against Carlos Vaz Pinto’s Deccan side, who overcame NEROCA FC with a 4-2 win in the qualifier, thanks to goals from Faysal Shayesteh, David Castañeda and a brace from Rilwan Hassan.
“The Super Cup is another competition in which we want to try and do the best that we can do. We fought hard to make the final on two occasions this season (Durand Cup and Indian Super League) and the Super Cup will be no different. The intent is to pick up from where we left off in the ISL final,” said Grayson, speaking to the media on the eve of the game.
The Blues are back in action for the first time since the 2022-23 Indian Super League final where they lost in a penalty shootout to ATK Mohun Bagan. Bengaluru will face the Deccan side, who finished runners-up in the 2022-23 I-League, behind fellow Group A opponents RoundGlass Punjab. Bengaluru were inaugural champions of the Super Cup, having won the title in 2018, beating East Bengal FC 4-1 in the final in Bhubaneshwar.
“The boys have been training well, and the tempo and attitude has been really good. Everyone is focused and it seems like they have a spring in their step. We want to use the disappointment from the final as a motivation to do well in this tournament. Every competition we play in, we want to give our best,” Grayson added.
Sreenidi come into Saturday’s game in good confidence, having scored 44 goals in 22 I-League games last season. Castañeda will be the main attacking output for the Deccan Warriors, having scored 15 and provided seven assists in the I-League. The battle between the Colombian and the Bengaluru FC defense, led by Sandesh Jhingan, makes for interesting viewing when the two sides square off at the EMS Stadium.
“We’ll be concentrating on how we play and want to continue the way the team has been performing so far. We’ve been able to do enough research from watching the I-League games and speaking to coaches in the League, so the team will be prepared going into these games,” said Grayson, when asked about Saturday’s opponents.
As for the Blues, skipper Sunil Chhetri will once again lead the charge, having scored thrice in the last four games for the club, including the ISL final. Chhetri’s form, combined with the return of the duo of Roy Krishna and Sivasakthi, will once again pose a selection headache for Grayson ahead of his side’s clash at the EMS.
Kick-off between the two sides is scheduled for 5 PM on Saturday, and will be telecast live on Sony Sports 2 and Fancode.