Inconsistent Bengaluru hosts resurgent Aizawl

Bengaluru FC's three-game winning streak was a dream beginning indeed, but it has faltered since. Its last five I-league games have yielded just two wins and to top it, the side lost in midweek to Lao Toyota away in the AFC Cup.

Bengaluru FC team members training at the Bangalore Football Stadium, ahead of their I-League match against Aizawl.   -  K Murali Kumar

The current season has seen Bengaluru FC at its inconsistent best. A three-game winning streak was a dream beginning indeed, but it has faltered since. Its last five I-league games have yielded just two wins and to top it, the side lost in midweek to Lao Toyota away in the AFC Cup.

As the league enters its second half, it is imperative for third-placed Bengaluru (15 points) to regroup and re-assess. Sunday’s clash against seventh-placed Aizawl FC, with skipper Sunil Chhetri in tow (who has recovered from a groin injury) will be the starting point for the same.

“We have had setbacks,” said coach Ashley Westwood. “Josh [Walker], Robin [Singh], Daniel [Lalhlimpuia] all got injured. We have got the ISL. Sunil, Eugene [Lyngdoh], Thoi [Singh] all play 50-60 games in a year. On top of that we haven’t had the long pre-season that we had last year.”

“But that’s the way it is for everybody. So no excuses. We have to adapt and adjust. In the 16 games, if you win eleven you will be okay. Fortunately we still have games left. We have to play Mohun Bagan and East Bengal. It’s still very much in our hands.”

Aizawl currently has eight points from eight games, but after replacing Spanish coach Manuel Retamaro with Jahar Das, it has seen an uptick in form, picking up four points from its last two games.

“When we played BFC at Aizawl, we had 60 per cent ball possession,” explained Das. “BFC won the match through a free-kick and not a field goal. We even hit the post twice. So, we have come here with that confidence and instead of playing the safe defensive game, we will go all out and get what Bengaluru earned at our place.”

“The philosophy has to be maintained but Bengaluru has to be respected as a team due to their position. So we will keep our goal safe and then look to go forward.”

Even as both managers admitted to a few niggles for some players, they said that there was nothing to prevent anyone from taking the field.