Monday, March 30, 2015

Bengaluru meet bottom-rung Sporting Clube de Goa at home

AIFF & Bengaluru FC Media 

Already confirming second best spot after midway of the Hero I-League, the team from the Garden City, Bengaluru FC meet the bottom-rung team Sporting Clube de Goa. 

The JSW Group-owned team have been unbeaten against Sporting in I-League. Playing the away encounter last month, they thrashed Sporting 3-1 and in the last season, Bengaluru played a 0-0 draw at home, and in the away game they signed-off the league in style by winning 2-1. 

Gaffer Ashley Westwood believes his team are peaking at the right time. Bengaluru might just want to go for a big win and keep the focus on retaining the title. 

Bengaluru FC have been turning up with good performances despite juggling AFC commitments but Westwood knows that a slip up can be ill afforded given the fewer number of games in the League this season. 

“Every single game is important. We knew that from the start of the season. If there were 15 or 16 teams, we would have a lot more games to play with and be very confident of winning the League. But with only twenty games, people can get lucky if you like but we have to keep believing and putting the pressure on the others,” said the gaffer.

All is not well at the Sporting house – they have only managed five draws and are yet to see a win in the Hero I-League. They are eagerly looking for a win and that may be tomorrow, reckons Trinidad and Tobago international and World Cupper Anthony Wolfe. “We are not scared, anybody can win on a given day. We have to score early and keep frustrating our opponents.” said Wolfe. 

Sporting is gathering momentum lately, they've held their opponents in previous two matches. Odafe Okolie’s addition on loan has added shine on their attack. 

The match between Bengaluru FC and Sporting Clube de Goa is slated to start tomorrow, Tuesday, March 31, 7 PM, at Sree Kanteerava Stadium, Bangalore. 

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Robin gives Bengaluru three vital points

Bengaluru FC Media 

Bengaluru FC came away with a 0-1 win over Salgaocar FC at the Nehru Stadium, in Fatorda, Goa on Saturday to go top of the I-League table. Blues striker Robin Singh scored the only goal of the game with a header in the 79th minute in a game that was bossed by the visitors throughout.

Bengaluru Coach Ashley Westwood handed starts to returning India internationals Sunil Chhetri, Keegan Pereira, Eugeneson Lyngdoh and Singh as Bengaluru started on the front foot, stitching together meaningful passes and attacking the Salgaocar box from both flanks.

The visitors’ first real chance of the game fell to skipper Chhetri who, after collecting Singh’s lay off, managed to lift the ball past his marker but only to shoot inches wide of an onrushing Salgaocar ’keeper Subrata Paul’s far post.

The Blues’ finishing was found wanting for most parts of the first half as more shots from Lyngdoh and striker Sean Rooney failed to trouble Paul. The Salgaocar custodian’s stubborn stint between the posts saw crosses from Pereira and right-back Rino Anto safely pouched or punched away on numerous occasions throughout.

Replacing Thoi Singh with Beikhokhei Beingaiccho, Westwood’s men started the second half with renewed vigour. Chhetri’s attempt to break the deadlock after being put through by Singh was once again thwarted by Paul.

Heading towards the closing stages, Bengaluru’s persistence finally paid off as an expert cross was met with a header from the most acute of angles. Anto’s floater into the box seemed to have been overcooked but for Robin, whose arrival at the far post came with a thumping header sending the ball past a hapless Paul.

However, the celebrations were brief as the home side came back with an immediate response to attack on the counter and win what seemed a controversial penalty. Salgaocar skipper Rocus Lamare’s run into the Bengaluru box was met by Blues’ substitute defender Lalchhuanmawia, who was harshly adjudged to have brought the midfielder down.

Bengaluru ’keeper Lalthuammawia Ralte carried forward his man-of-the-match performance from the AFC Cup game against Warriors FC earlier in the week, diving to his right and saving Gilbert Oliveira’s spot-kick to protect the Blues’ slender advantage.

Salgaocar’s night went from bad to worse as defender Gurjinder Kumar received his second yellow and marching orders for a rash tackle on Beingaiccho with minutes left to play.

Bengaluru next face Sporting Clube de Goa at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium, in Bengaluru, on the 31st of March.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Bengaluru set up for battle against Salgaocar

Bengaluru FC Media

Bengaluru FC resume their I-League commitments with a trip to Goa where they take on Salgaocar at the Nehru Stadium, on Saturday. 

The game marks the halfway stage in the League for Bengaluru who know a win would give them breathing space on a table that houses a stuffy top-half.

Ashley Westwood will be buoyed by the return of skipper Sunil Chhetri, Robin Singh, Eugeneson Lyngdoh, and Keegan Pereira – all of who missed the Blues’ last two games owing to national duty. “It’s good to   have the lads back. If you’re missing as many as four players, it is always going to be a loss. But I’d like to give credit to the rest of the players who turned up with a good performance on Tuesday. That said, we are happy as a club to have contributed to the national team who came away with a good result. The fact that we had four players on the India team means we are doing something right,” said Westwood.

But while the reinforcements give the squad the depth it needs, Westwood says places in the starting XI will have to be fought for. “Our bench looks a little stronger but the competition for places is still fierce. There’s a minimum of 3 games in the AFC Cup and things in the League have started nearing the more serious end.”

In Salgaocar, Bengaluru have opponents who Westwood says they are familiar with. “As far as I can recall, Salgaocar is the side we have played the most over last season and now. We’ve played them twice in the League last season and this year, we’ve played them in a pre-season friendly, the Durand Cup and the Federation Cup. It’s a side we know well and one that we respect a lot. They have a good coach and are always there and about the clubs who have achieved things.”

The Derrick Pereira-coached team are sitting eighth on the table with 11 points and had to dig deep to come away with a 2-1 win over Shillong Lajong after playing most of the game with a man short. Meanwhile, three points would take Bengaluru FC to the top of the table, ahead of Pune FC and Mohun Bagan who have games on Sunday. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Walker penalty sees Bengaluru FC through

Bengaluru FC Media 

A first-half penalty by Joshua Walker was enough to see off Singapore club Warriors FC as the Blues garnered an important 1-0 win in an AFC Cup Group E game at the Kanteerava Stadium, in Bengaluru, on Tuesday. Bengaluru’s second win in three games takes them to six points and keeps their chase of qualifying for the pre-quarterfinal stage, firmly on track. 

With as many as four key players away on national duty, Walker stepped up and shouldered much of the added responsibility, constantly being involved in attacks and defending stubbornly when the need arose. But as influential as Walker was the performance by goalkeeper Lalthuammawia Ralte who had a solid day in goal, pulling off a couple of splendid saves to make sure the slender lead didn’t prove to be a disadvantage. 

The goal came in the 36th minute after CK Vineeth was hauled down by Daniel Bennett in the box prompting referee Ho Wai Sing to point to the spot. Walker walked up and struck a firm shot past ’keeper Ong Daniel’s right to give the Blues a lead they would comfortably protect till full time. 

Reinforced with the return of Siam Hanghal and Shankar Sampingiraj who were away at the India Under-23 camp in Goa, Westwood handed the duo starts in the midfield while CK Vineeth got the nod down the left. The game got off to a rather slow start with both teams cautious of giving conceding an early goal.

Slowly picking pace, the encounter saw its first effort as Vineeth found himself unmarked in the penalty area. But, his shot from close range was ruled offside before a free-kick from Warriors midfielder Mohamed Rahim was tipped over the bar by Bengaluru ’keeper Lalthuammawia Ralte. Heading into the break and holding the slender advantage, Bengaluru began passing the ball around with more purpose as the visitors chased the goal they needed to keep them alive. Warriors did get their chance when Argentinian striker Nicolas Velez smashed a shot in the 63rd minute that drew a solid save from Ralte who did everything right on the day.

Bengaluru’s next AFC Cup fixture takes them to Singapore on April 14 for the reverse leg against Warriors who, with three losses in as many games, will look to set things right at home.  

Monday, March 16, 2015

Bengaluru keen on getting a result against Warriors

Important games for both the Group E teams as host Bengaluru FC take on Warriors FC at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium tomorrow night. 

In the pre match press conference, Warriors FC coach Alex Weaver expressed the importance of tomorrow’s game, “Considering we’re coming from a bad game, we would like to treat this as a comeback. Also, we want to write off our two defeats we had so far in the AFC Cup.” 

Warriors were handed over a 6-goal defeat to Albirex Niigata in the S League on last Saturday. 

Warriors FC, which was earlier known as Singapore Armed Forces Football Club comprises three foreigners, they are yet to fill the Asian quota player. Coach sounded cautious against his opponent, “Bengaluru is a great team, ably guided by great coach Ashley. They've achieved a lot in a short time.” 

Also added his team has prepared well, “We’re well prepared, perhaps not tactically as the local league engagements kept us busy.” 

After a result that went against hosts Bengaluru FC, gaffer Ashley means business, “We have to try and get results, which we didn’t achieve in Indonesia against Persipura Jayapura. Our opponents are a good team. We've seen their previous game, which they lost badly, believe they never played like 6-0 loss!” 

Bengaluru would be missing four key players Chhetri, Robin, Eugenson, and Keegan who are out on national duty. Shankar, who scored the winner against Maziya is in U-23 camp. Also, doubtful is John Johnson, who got injured and was replaced early against Persipura.  

“Always tough to miss key players, We’re trying to fly Shankar home for tomorrow’s match. For Johnson, we have to take a call later today evening.” Gaffer also adds, “It is up to the new players to play well, an opportunity to prove their worth, and stake claim in the squad.” 

Warriors captain Daniel Bennett  said, “Players loves competition, play abroad rather than concentrating in the S-League. It is a great opportunity, especially for the youngsters to express themselves.” 

Bikhokhei who had previously played AFC Cup for East Bengal summed-up the mood of the camp, “Earlier it was only for the sake of playing, but here we've the urge to play well, and qualify for the next round.”