ISL: Bengaluru FC readies itself for South Indian derby

The table topper takes on Chennaiyin FC, which trails by just three points, on Sunday at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium.

Bengaluru FC trains in Bengaluru on Saturday ahead of its ISL match against Chennaiyin FC.   -  V. Sreenivasa Murthy

After the defeat of Pune City on Thursday, Bengaluru FC’s travelling supporters implored head coach Albert Roca to deliver a win in the team's next fixture. “I said I want to win every game,” he recalled. “But they told me: ‘Come-on. This is a derby; we have to win.’”

BFC’s clash with Chennaiyin FC at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium on Sunday may only loosely fit the definition of a derby, but both South Indian sides are keen to embrace the idea of a regional rivalry. That can only be a good thing. “This is by far the closest team to us; it took us barely half an hour to fly here, which is unusual in India,” remarked the Chennaiyin head coach John Gregory. “There is a bit of local rivalry.”

BFC arrives home after securing six points from three games on the road, returns the team will not complain about.

Sandhu ‘only human’

Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, who was sent off against FC Goa, is available after serving his two-match suspension, with Roca urging his goalkeeper to effect a change in attitude. “Players, especially those in the national team, have to be humble. Errors are not always technical; they can come from your attitude too. He's only human,” Roca said.

The Spaniard – who will be without the company of assistant Carles Cuadrat on Sunday as the latter recovers in hospital from surgery on a knee infection – has promised to rotate his team keeping the calendar in mind.

With four wins out of five, BFC sits (as of Saturday afternoon) on top of the ISL table. But Chennaiyin is only three points behind, having recovered from a poor opening game to win three on the trot before an unfortunate loss to Mumbai City. Gregory was less than thrilled with the standard of refereeing in that game – and the ISL in general – but that did little to dampen his spirits as he looked ahead to Sunday's fixture. “Both teams like to attack; both look to score,” he said. “It has all the hallmarks of being a fantastic football match.”

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