I-League: Bengaluru FC takes on table-topper Aizawl FC

For Bengaluru FC — a full 12 points behind the leader — the league title is beyond reach.

Bengaluru FC players train ahead on the eve of the I-League match against Aizawl FC at the Kanteerava Stadium on Saturday.   -  K. Murali Kumar

After a fine start to its AFC Cup campaign, Bengaluru FC (BFC) returns to domestic duty, where things are not quite as rosy. BFC, well off the pace in the I-League, takes on table-topper Aizawl FC at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium here on Sunday.

For the home side — a full 12 points behind the leader — the league title is beyond reach.

“Yes, we are out of the title race, but all the matches that we play are still important. We have to fight hard and please our fans. It is important to keep them happy,” BFC coach Albert Roca said on Saturday.

Roca added that the I-League fixtures serve as good preparation for the AFC Cup. His side has won both its outings in the group stages of the international competition thus far.

The last time the two sides met, it resulted in a 1-1 draw. “Things are different now. Aizawl is the favourite to win the title. We have to be at our best, otherwise it will become very tough for us,” Roca said.

BFC will be without injured defenders Rino Anto and Sandesh Jhingan, while midfielder Harmanjot Khabra is out due to a suspension.

The visitor, on the other hand, is on a high. Coach Khalid Jamil, however, sought to play down his side’s stellar run.

“We are not thinking about winning the league. We just want to take it match by match. But I will say that at the start of the season, I did not think that we would get to be in fantastic position. I’m delighted,” Jamil said.

Aizawl is on a seven-game unbeaten run, which includes five victories and two draws.

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