I-League: Rejuvenated BFC hosts Shivajians

In the last few weeks BFC seems to have regained some of its poise. There hasn't been any dramatic turnaround but a run of four wins on the bounce – something which last happened in April 2015 – has meant that it still has something to play for.

With the title out of its reach, Bengaluru FC will look to end the season on a high.   -  K. Murali Kumar

This is the first time since the club's inception almost four years ago that Bengaluru FC isn't part of the buzz which surrounds the home stretch of the I-League. Its mid-season slump has ensured that the focus has instead shifted to the two clubs from the East, Aizawl FC and Mohun Bagan, who will go head to head for the title.

In the last few weeks though, BFC seems to have regained some of its poise. There hasn't been any dramatic turnaround but a run of four wins on the bounce – something which last happened in April 2015 – has meant that it still has something to play for. It is placed comfortably in the AFC Cup and has more than a decent shot at finishing third in the League; a respectable result after all the earlier travails.

On Saturday, when it takes on DSK Shivajians at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium, its aim will be to further stretch this period of incremental gains.

“We have to win both our [remaining] games,” said coach Albert Roca. “It's important to keep winning and working like we have in the last four-five games. We want to give our supporters another gift.”

Roca will however have to make do without striker Marjan Jugovic, who recently scored the winner against Aizawl and added another against Abahani Dhaka in the AFC Cup. BFC has struggled without a prolific striker all through and the Serbian's knee injury, which in all likelihood looks season-ending, is sure to hurt.

Central defender Juanan is suspended and is set to be replaced by the returning Sandesh Jhingan. Forward Udanta Singh, who has missed the last two games, trained on Friday.

Like BFC, Shivajians too will like to finish the season on a high. It lies seventh in the table but on its day, can be a dogged outfit as BFC found out in reverse fixture which ended in the 2-2 draw. Also, it is fresh off a giant-killing act after beating East Bengal away and throwing the Kolkatan giant into disarray.

“I am just hoping for them to express themselves,” said coach Dave Rogers. “Individual errors have cost us, else we would have been in the top three or four. We try to win every game we play and tomorrow's game wont be any different.”