ISL: BFC braces for Grant-led NEUFC challenge

After its AFC Cup fixture on Tuesday, Bengaluru FC takes on NorthEast United in the Indian Super League on Friday.

Bengaluru FC skipper Sunil Chhetri in training at the FSV Arena, on the eve of the clash against NorthEast United.   -  Special Arrangement

After a goalless draw in its AFC Cup preliminary stage qualifier in Bhutan, Bengaluru FC will return to ISL duty in the familiar environs of the Sree Kanteerava Stadium. A BFC side sans the big names failed to score against Transport United earlier in the week but victory over a resurgent NorthEast United on Friday will propel Albert Roca's men to the top of the table.

"We couldn’t get the job done in Bhutan but I’m happy that the boys who stayed back managed to get enough rest," the BFC head coach said. "The travel and conditions were hectic, and it would not have been possible for the team to take the pitch 100% against NorthEast United if everyone had traveled."

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Since the appointment of the former Chelsea manager Avram Grant as head coach, NorthEast United FC has won two out of three games, beating strong sides in FC Goa and Chennaiyin. The former BFC striker Seiminlen Doungel, who scored a hat-trick against Chennaiyin, has been key to his side's recent success.

Albert Roca was wary of NorthEast's improving form. "We had to grind out a win when we played them in Guwahati and that game was an indicator of how tough a side they can be. A lot has changed for them off the pitch too and I know they will give us a hard time," he said. BFC had edged the reverse fixture 1-0.

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Ahead of what will be his first away fixture in the ISL, Grant was hopeful of a strong performance. "I have seen them (BFC) on television. They are a good team and I like the way they play. But as we have shown in our last match, we have the ability to win games," he said.

BFC will be able to call on Edu Garcia, who has recovered from injury, while Dimas Delgado is a doubt to feature with a sore calf.

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