Reigning champions Bengaluru FC and Sergio Lobera’s men are focussed on recovering in time for another exhilarating face-off on Monday, with Sunil Chhetri and Co. hinting to retain their usual aggression on the field as they take on their arch-enemies.
The battle between the Gaurs and the Blues will surely be a sight to behold, for the two teams perfectly epitomise consistency and quality football and have most definitely set the bar too high for the other Indian Super League (ISL) clubs.
The fans will be eager to watch the Sunil Chhetri brigade assume their imperious self before Goa’s attacking line. The Gaurs may well boast of their ominous display after an impressive 3-0 annihilation of Chennaiyin FC in their season opener. Bengaluru FC, on the other side, will aim to vie for the top spot with the likes of Sunil Chhetri, Udanta Singh, and Raphael Augusto in their side.
The Bridge caught up with Prasanna Haritas, a Bengaluru FC fan living in the Netherlands, to discuss his team’s chances against hosts Goa.
Q> How would you take a draw at home to start the season? Could it have been better?
Surely it was not a great start to a brand-new season where we started as defending champions for the first time. Bengaluru with some fresh additions to the squad looked nervy and Northeast was good tactically under their new manager to not allow Bengaluru to easily settle in. The damp conditions did not help either. However, personally I would not view this as a setback as it’s good to have an early reminder that the season is not going to be easy with other teams having grown from strength to strength.
Q> Given that this is a rematch of last year’s final, how much are you looking forward to it?
Bengaluru FC and FC Goa were by far the best two teams in the last season and fittingly met in the final as well. Given the tight finish of that game which also was the last time these two sides met, it would only be exciting to watch them battle it out for 90 more minutes.
Q> FC Goa are the favourites besides BFC to top the league. To play them at home, how big a challenge do you think it will be?
Playing FC Goa at their home must be one of the toughest challenges for any visiting team in an ISL season. As most of the score lines suggest the Fatorda is one of the highest-scoring grounds in the country and Goa is just ruthless at home. With the AFC spot now being allocated to the winner of the league, this fixture is going to be even more significant for Bengaluru.
Q> Realistically, what result are you hoping for?
I am hoping for Bengaluru to get all three points but at the same time also think that it’s going to be a very close contest. 2-1 would be a realistic scoreline.
Q> Who will be the key players according to you for both sides today?
Goa has a very strong forward line and as usual, Coro would be the man to mark. Len Doungel who became the first Indian to score this season along with Brandon Fernandez will be the key men to watch out for today. Also, possible returns of Hugo Boumous and Ahmed Jahouh will further strengthen the team.
Bengaluru, on the other side, has a brilliant midfield with the new signings Ashique Kuruniyan and Raphael Augusto and they would be keen to make an early impact. Sunil Chhetri has only scored 1 goal against Goa in a Bengaluru FC shirt; he surely will be the man to watch as he tries to better that stat.