Saturday, April 16, 2016

Bengaluru face exuberant Salgaocar to seal the league

I-League Media 
Bengaluru FC Media 

Bengaluru FC’s eye on the coveted Hero I-League is pretty apparent. They played with a second string side in their 4th round AFC Cup match against Ayeyawady United, Myanmar last Wednesday. Gaffer Westwood refrained from fielding a full-strength squad which included stars like Sunil Chettri, Eugenson Lyngdoh, and all four foreigners - ensuring he gets his best eleven against Salgaocar tomorrow. 

A win and they take home the Hero I-League. Winning the silverware twice in their three-season existence. That would be an impressive record for Bengaluru FC. 

Salgaocar have been on a late upsurge - they are unbeaten for the past five rounds and fared extremely well in their Round 16 match against Aijwal FC. Playing an away match versus the newly-promoted I-League team, they won 1-0. The win took Santosh Kashyap’s team out of the relegation threat.

Bengaluru Gaffer looked poised, in his usual manner he said, “I have no expectations, it is a normal game of football – we will play for win. Everything is in our hands, hope we’ll put up a good performance, and get results thereafter.”

Ashley further added, “We are at home, chance for us to put up a good performance in front of our fans.” 

Eugenson has been a mainstay in the Bengaluru team. His return after six-weeks of injury has made most of the difference for his team. Citing how tormenting it is to stay away from the game, he responded, “Always tough for a player to be on the sideline, but then Injury is a part and parcel of football.

“When Eugene got injured, Shankar came in and did a good job for us, then he got injured! We always got the capability to shuffle around. Should Eugune being fit throughout the season, he probably wouldn’t have played all the games, we would have rotated him. It is just another opportunity for players to step into his shoes”, Ashley added. 

With two more rounds to go (including tomorrow’s match), Salgaocar would surely like to climb up the points table, and finish as the 4th best team. But most importantly they would be spoiling Bengaluru’s party and keep the I-League alive till the last round. 

However, one major worry for Kashyap’s is his star performer Daryll Duffy’s absence. Duffy, who has scored eleven goals for Salgaocar in HeroI-league, is not considered for the match owing to card suspension. 

“We are not in pressure, the pressure is on Bengaluru, giggled Kashyap.

”We will see how we can put more pressure on them, so that they crack.”

Santosh Kashyap added, “We’ve achieved our first objective, which is to avoid relegation. Now we are aiming to finish at the top for and we will achieve only by playing well in the last two rounds.”

Salgaocar coach is unperturbed by Duffy’s absence, “Duffy is an important member, in his absence, we’ve defeated East Bengal, also, fared well on other matches in his absence.” 
The Goan team missing few more players due to injury, Kashyap added, “It is not just only Duffey, there are several other members like Gurjinder Kumar, Calvin Mbarga, Clifton Dias, who are injured and not in the recent scheme of things. But we have a big squad, it is up to the players like Manandeep and rest to rise to the occasion.” 

When the title of the league is decided in the last 4 minutes of the final round, it is too early to decide, considering there are still two rounds left.