Sunday, January 12, 2014

Bengaluru FC head to Federation Cup sans pressure

Bengaluru FC Media 

Bengaluru FC coach Ashley Westwood played down any talk of pressure as his League-leading team leave for Kerala on Monday to play what will be their first ever appearance in the Federation Cup. Playing its league games in the town of Manjeri, Bengaluru FC are placed in Group B – dubbed the group of death – alongside East Bengal, Sporting Clube de Goa and Rangdajied United. 

See Bengaluru FC's fixture here - 

Sitting pretty on top of the table after 15 rounds, Westwood is certain that positions on the League table will not be an indicator for success at the Federation Cup. “While there is a league stage, it’s as good as a knock out right from the first game. You lose one and it sets you back by a long way. It doesn’t matter what position you are on the table in the I-League then,” said Westwood at an interaction with the media. 

Bengaluru ended the year with a 2-1 win at home against Salgaocar before earning a week off that Westwood believes was good rest for his team. “We’ve come back rejuvenated and spent this time off from competitive games to train and conduct tests on the boys. All this should surely give us an edge in the tournament. I hope we can carry forward our momentum we have built in the League, through the Federation Cup.” 

The club has roped in sports conditioning expert Malcolm Purchase and goalkeeper coach Ali Uzunhasanoglu in a bid to build on the impressive foundations laid since Bengaluru FC’s inception in July last year.  

On the players front, Bengaluru skipper and striker Sunil Chhetri seems to have embraced his new position on the left and has the numbers to back him up. At nine goals, he is the leading scorer in the League and Chhetri hopes the club’s League success translates to the games in Kerala. The club’s Australian import, Sean Rooney, too has been in fine form and much will depend on the midfield marshaled by the experienced John Menyongar. Central defender Johnson, who took a nasty hit on the cheek in the Salgaocar game that led to him being substituted, is completely fit. 

Echoing similar sentiments as that of Westwood, Chhetri admitted there was absolutely no pressure to deliver. “If we start doing the math, we put ourselves under pressure and no one on the team wants that. A big reason why we are leading the League table is because we play every game with zero pressure. We leave all the thinking to the fantastic coaching staff we have at the club. Our job is only to execute,” said Chhetri. 

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