ISL 2023-24: Bengaluru aims to build on its dream start under Zaragoza with win against NorthEast

Like BFC, NorthEast has also struggled this season, accumulating just 10 points (two wins). But it sits one spot above BFC on better goal difference.

Published : Dec 23, 2023 21:26 IST , BENGALURU - 2 MINS READ

 BFC’s Francisco Javier Hernandez Gonzalez (10), celebrating with teammates after scoring a goal, during the ISL football match between Bengaluru FC vs Jamshedpur FC, at Sree Kanteerava Stadium, in Bengaluru on December 16, 2023.
 BFC’s Francisco Javier Hernandez Gonzalez (10), celebrating with teammates after scoring a goal, during the ISL football match between Bengaluru FC vs Jamshedpur FC, at Sree Kanteerava Stadium, in Bengaluru on December 16, 2023. | Photo Credit: MURALI KUMAR K / The Hindu
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 BFC’s Francisco Javier Hernandez Gonzalez (10), celebrating with teammates after scoring a goal, during the ISL football match between Bengaluru FC vs Jamshedpur FC, at Sree Kanteerava Stadium, in Bengaluru on December 16, 2023. | Photo Credit: MURALI KUMAR K / The Hindu

Bengaluru FC will hope that its dream start under new head coach Gerard Zaragoza extends a little more when it meets NorthEast United FC in an Indian Super League fixture at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium on Sunday.

In the Spaniard’s first game in charge last weekend, BFC beat Jamshedpur FC 1-0 for only its second win of the campaign. Three more points for the league’s ninth-placed side will brighten up the mood further and help its National team players break for the Asian Cup in good spirits.

“The players stepped on the pitch with a renewed mentality, and they were willing to fight together,” Zaragoza said about the positives he took from the contest against JFC. “And we have spoken about the same thing throughout this week at training.

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“We’ve analysed them [NorthEast]. They are one of the best sides when it comes to set pieces, and they also possess good individual talent. [But] I feel we had a nice week working together, and I would like for us to go out and control the game.”

Like BFC, NorthEast has also struggled this season, accumulating just 10 points (two wins). But it sits one spot above BFC on better goal difference, despite having played a game less (10 to BFC’s 11). Its away record, though, is worrisome. On a 21-match winless streak on the road in the ISL, coach Juan Pedro Benali will be desperate to course-correct.

“It’s going to be a difficult game, but we know our job,” said Benali. “We play our way, always to get the best result possible. I cannot comment on his (Zaragoza’s) style of play because it’s only been one game.

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“But, we see there are some slight changes in the teams, in players, [and] the approach is totally different. There are new ideas and fresh air, which is why it won’t be easy.”

Both teams will be missing key defenders; BFC centre-back Slavko Damjanovic, who has started nine of 11 matches, is suspended, and so is NorthEast left-back Tondonba Singh, who has played nearly every minute of his club’s 10 ties this season, but for the previous game against Mohun Bagan SG where he was sent off.

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