I-League: EB faces BFC test

Ahead of his first clash against the Red and Golds, Roca maintained that the need is to keep winning. The Spaniard denied changing his approach to the game, maintaining that changes would be made only to cater to the need of the team.

K. Murali Kumar

"We’ll have to be better than we were before if we are to take anything away from the game against East Bengal," says Bengaluru FC coach Albert Roca.   -  K. Murali Kumar

Its quest for a maiden I-League title will be tested when an unbeaten East Bengal faces defending champion Bengaluru FC on a rampaging form in an exciting I-League football battle here on Sunday.

For Bengaluru this will be its first match on the road and arrives here on the back of three home wins, but head coach Albert Roca refused to make much of the streak on the eve of the fixture.

“It is true that we have won three games in a row but an away game changes things. East Bengal are a tough side with some very good players and we’ll have to be better than we were before if we are to take anything away from this game,” Roca said.

A second-half strike from skipper Sunil Chhetri goal secured three points for BFC at the Barasat when the two sides last met in Kolkata, which was the club’s first away win against East Bengal.

Ahead of his first clash against the Red and Golds, Roca maintained that the need is to keep winning. The Spaniard denied changing his approach to the game, maintaining that changes would be made only to cater to the need of the team.

“Every opposition plays a different game and as a coach, it’s important to make sure that the best suited team is out there. Some of our players have played all three games at home but whether they start or not depends on the opposition and the game-plan,” Roca added.

With defender Sandesh Jhingan not making the travel with a minor injury, Roca mentioned that the squad has enough in terms of depth to see the Blues through the run of away fixtures.

“Jhingan picked up a minor injury at training and I would rather have him recover completely with our medical team in Bengaluru than travel to Kolkata. But apart from that we have a squad that’s ready to take this game on. Sena Ralte returns to the squad after missing the previous game.”

East Bengal started its campaign with a draw against Aizawl before picking up wins against DSK Shivajians and Churchill Brothers. The Calcutta Football League champion has shored up its foreign player department with the signings of Ivan Bukenya (Uganda), Willis Plaza (Trinidad & Tobago), Wedson Anselme (Haiti) and Ildar Amirov (Kyrgyzstan) but Trevor Morgan is yet to start with all of them in the same game.

To add to the gripping contest at hand, the game also throws in two players being pitted against their former clubs. Harmanjot Khabra will make his first return to the Kolkata-based club where he plied his trade for seven seasons while striker Robin Singh will take to the pitch against a Blues’ side for which he scored 14 goals in two seasons.