Following two away wins from as many I-League games, Bengaluru FC will look replicate their good form at home as they take on Shillong Lajong FC at the Kanteerava Stadium on Sunday.
It’s the 2013-14 champions’ best start to a season in their three-year-old history. In a truncated season, the teams being cut down from 11 teams to nine, a start as confident as this is worth its weight in gold.
“It’s obviously very important,” said coach Ashley Westwood. “You can’t afford to lose too many games because it’s tough to catch-up. Only a few teams can sustain a good run of form over 16 games. If it’s 24 or 30 games, the most consistent sides will win it, a bit similar to previous seasons. Now, the match-ups against rivals, the Mohun Bagans, the East Bengals and other title contenders will be the key.”
Yet, in spite of two important wins, Westwood seemed far from satisfied. A bit more flair and an uptick in the number of goals scored were the next requisites, he felt.
“We are not going to win the league by scoring 1.5 goals per game,” he said. “We need to improve on that. We do well for 15 minutes and get ourselves back in the last 15 and perform. The rest of the football has just been okay. We have got the two away wins now and at home we should look to control the game better. Apart from the last 15 minutes against Salgaocar, the games have been a bit tight.”
The new comers Kim Seong Yong and Malswamzuala have settled in well so far and Westwood hoped the same would hold true for Michael Collins, who has replaced fellow English midfielder Joshua Walker.
Lajong on the other hand, having played just one game so far – a home draw with Mumbai FC – would want to get their first win. Its coach Thangboi Singto though seemed fully aware of the task at hand.
“Playing Bengaluru is a challenge,” he said. “[John] Johnson and Curtis [Osano] are solid in defence. They have the best Indian player in Sunil Chhetri. Then Eugene [Lyngdoh] and Thoi Singh’s energy. They have a bunch of players who I think are the best in India. Team wise it is one of the best.”
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