Monday, April 21, 2014

Only a win away from the crown

Bengaluru FC Media

Bengaluru FC takes on Dempo Sports Club at the Fatorda Stadium, Goa, today. Knowing that victory would see them crowned I-League champions in what has been an already successful season for the club. League leaders for most of the season, Bengaluru are on 41 points from 22 games and a double over Dempo would end the chase by closest rivals East Bengal who are on 40 points from 23 games. 

The Ashley Westwood-coached team had beaten Dempo 3-1 at home early in the season where a brace by Sean Rooney and a Siam Hanghal screamer did the job for Bengaluru who have their belief strengthened after the big win away against Mohun Bagan a fortnight ago. 

East Bengal’s win over Pune FC on Saturday meant the Kolkata side is still in the reckoning for the title. And while the result is deemed to have put Bengaluru under pressure, Westwood believes otherwise. “There is no pressure on us whatsoever. We are confirmed to finish top 3 and that was far higher than what was expected of me and my squad. The pressure is on East Bengal who have won back to back games only once this season and were expected to win the League with their squad and finances,” said Westwood, who is serving a one-match suspension and will not be on the sidelines on Monday. 

Dempo are coming off a 1-1 draw against Mumbai FC and are currently sixth on the table. The Goa side know that a win against Bengaluru could see them finish as high as fourth should other results aid their cause. They will, however, be without Australian striker Tolgay Ozbey who misses the game with a suspension. 

But Westwood believes Dempo have an impressive squad that will be looking to prove a point in beating the leaders. “Dempo are a good side with a great squad who have underachieved this season so I'm sure they will be very tough opponents and will try to get a feather in their cap by beating us.” 

Bengaluru have traveled with a completely fit squad and have been looking sharp and the performance against Bagan was testament enough. Midfielder Thoi Singh has been the man of the moment, scoring two goals in as many games and the team will have to chip in with inspired performances if they are to seize the chance to give an impressive season a special end.