ISL 2019-20: Bengaluru faces stern challenge against table topper Goa

Bengaluru has been struggling for goals this season, and will be desperate to stop a Goa side that, in contrast, is leading the scoring charts.

Bengaluru FC players train ahead of the match against FC Goa. Goa is first on the points table, five points above third-placed Goa.   -  Special Arrangement

Bengaluru FC will have to be at its best to stop table-topping FC Goa when the two teams meet at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium here on Friday.

The defending champion has been struggling for goals this season, having netted only 11 times so far, and will be desperate to stop a Goa side that, in contrast, is leading the scoring charts (22). Part of the reason for that goal drought, BFC head coach Carles Cuadrat felt, was the absence of a fit overseas striker -- something other teams did not have to worry about. But the Spaniard was not unduly concerned. "I don't feel we are doing bad work," he said. "We are creating more chances per game than anyone else. It's just a matter of taking those chances."

Manuel Onwu, who has featured in only three matches this season due to injury, is yet to score. The Spaniard is fit to take part in Friday's game but new signing Deshorn Brown will only be ready for the clash against Jamshedpur FC on January 9.

Goa's possession-based, attacking football has a lot of admirers but Cuadrat felt some unpleasant aspects of the side's play had gone unnoticed. "I love the way Goa play. It's a wonderful team. It's very nice to watch any game of football that Goa play. But at the same time, they are clever, taking advantage of some situations that referees should punish. They have four players -- Seriton Fernandes, Mourtada Fall, Lenny Rodrigues and Ahmed Jahouh -- who a lot of times should get a second yellow card and be out of the game. But maybe because the referees don't understand those kinds of tricks -- which we as professionals can see very very clearly -- they keep playing and playing. They are doing things that are out of the rules but there is no punishment for that," he said.

Goa will miss Sergio Lobera on the touchline after the coach was sent off following his side's win over Chennaiyin FC. Cuadrat defended Lobera's actions -- the two are old friends from their time at FC Barcelona -- but he will have little sympathy for Goa on Friday.