There is no team in the world, says Albert Roca, that can play the same way home and away. In Bengaluru FC's case, though, that gulf was rather large last season, when the team won only two of nine games on the road in the I-League. As BFC prepares to meet FC Goa in its first away fixture in the ISL here on Thursday, Roca will hope his men can improve on that patchy record.
"Last season, we slipped away from home and we want to fix that," he said at the Fatorda stadium here on match-eve. "Playing three away games in a row is tough. We won't have our fans, and the weather is another thing: you can't adapt to this humidity in one day."
BFC will be hugely confident, though, having recorded two exuberant wins in its first two games, at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium. One cause for concern is the fitness of John Johnson, who picked up an injury in training on Wednesday. The centre-half will be assessed by medical staff ahead of the match.
In Sergio Lobera, Roca faces a coach with similar ideas about football. "We know each other from Barcelona. He also likes his team to have possession and press high. Goa has impressed me more than any other team so far. It will be tough for us,” the BFC head-coach said.
Goa defeated Chennaiyin 3-2 in its opening game before
losing 1-2 to Mumbai City in unfortunate fashion. Laxmikant Kattimani has come under scrutiny for his errors in both fixtures, but Lobera - who has called his goalkeeper the best in the league -continued to defend him. "I trust him completely. If you keep count, you will see at the end of the season that he has won more points for us than he has lost. If you look at individual errors, we can highlight many; he gets noticed only because he's the goalkeeper," he said.
Injury to Brandon Fernandes forced Lobera to reshuffle his team against Mumbai, fielding an all-Indian defence. The Goa coach was happy with their performance, although it's likely that the Portuguese Bruno Pinhiero will slot back into the centre of defence, now that Fernandes is fit.
There is much excitement in Margao ahead of FC Goa's first home game of the season. "We have to give to the fans before asking anything of them," said Lobera. "We have to put on a good show."
For the neutral, a treat lies in store.
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