Blues Look To Build On First Leg Advantage As Buckingham’s Men Chase Second Final In Three Years
Bengaluru: Simon Grayson’s Bengaluru FC will take on Mumbai City FC in the second leg of an Indian Super League semifinal, with a spot in the final of the 2022-23 Indian Super League at stake, at the Kanteerava Stadium, in Bengaluru, on Sunday. The Blues hold an advantage coming into the fixture, having won the first leg 0-1 at the Mumbai Football Arena courtesy a Sunil Chhetri header earlier this week.
“I had said that we wanted to be in the tie going into the second leg, which is what we’ve managed to do. But we haven’t achieved anything yet. Mumbai are a top team, so I expect a difficult game on Sunday,” said Grayson, when addressing the media on the eve of the fixture.
Chhetri’s header was the difference in a tight, end-to-end encounter between the two teams and Mumbai City FC will look to turn things around at the Kanteerava Stadium, given that the latest regulations rule out away goals as a means to qualify. The Islanders would need to find the back of the net to find the desired result, which makes for an open encounter.
“Our motivation is that we are one step away from the final. Whether there are 500 people or 25,000 people at the stands, our intent remains the same. We expect the stadium to be rocking on Sunday and will work hard to ensure that they have something to cheer about,” Grayson replied.
The Islanders have scored the most goals in the ISL this season, but have endured a little dip in form having lost their last three games, out of which two were against Bengaluru FC, including Tuesday night’s defeat.
Bengaluru FC will be buoyed by the form of skipper Sunil Chhetri who has three goals in his last four games, a stat that Grayson says is one that gives him a nice problem to solve concerning team selection for Sunday.
“If Sunil keeps scoring goals, it’s a good headache to have for me. He has that steely desire to give his best when he gets the opportunity. His professionalism is unbelievable,” said Grayson, praising Chhetri.
Mumbai would also be wary of not getting any of their key players suspended. Jorge Diaz picked up his seventh yellow card of the season in the first leg. Players like Mourtada Fall and Ahmed Jahouh would also be wary of not picking up any cautions when the two teams clash on Sunday night.
“It’s about how we work as a team. As individuals, everyone needs to win their battles, but it has to be within the structure of the team. It’s never going to be easy against Mumbai, but our intention will always be to play with the desire to win,” Grayson mused.
As both teams collide on Sunday, Bengaluru FC target their first Indian Super League final since their title-winning campaign in 2018-19, while Mumbai City FC target a second final in three years.
Kick-off between the two teams is scheduled for 7:30 PM on Sunday, and will be telecast live on the STAR Sports Network, Disney+Hotstar and JioTV.