ISL 2020-21 preview: Shaky Bengaluru takes on bottom-ranked Odisha in must-win clash

ISL 2021 News: Bengaluru has an ideal chance against Odisha to snap its wretched run and make up for the shock loss it suffered to Kerala Blasters on Wednesday.

Bengaluru FC

Sunil Chhetri and Juanan, two of Bengaluru FC's most influential players, will be eager to snap the side's six-match winless run when it takes on Odisha FC on Sunday.   -  ISL/Sportzpics

Two sides desperate for a win will go toe-to-toe at the Fatorda Stadium in Goa on Sunday. Bengaluru FC (BFC) is on a six-match winless streak – the longest in its short ISL history – that has left the team in eighth place on 13 points from 12 matches, while Odisha FC has tasted victory just once all season and is rooted to the bottom on seven points.

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On paper, it seems like the ideal opportunity for BFC to snap its wretched run and recover from the dispiriting 2-1 loss it suffered against Kerala Blasters on Wednesday. But leading into the match, it is Odisha which has better form, with two draws and a win (over Kerala) in its last four games.

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"[Kerala result] was really disappointing,” said BFC interim coach Naushad Moosa, who is still looking for his first win. “Silly defensive errors cost us. Now it is do or die…all [eight] games are important. The points table is going against us, but we have to look ahead. Players know how important every game is.”

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Moosa said there were a few positives in the Kerala match, like forward Udanta Singh showing flashes of his old self and BFC Academy product Amay Morajkar coming up with a confident show in the mid-field. But he will have to do without Harmanjot Khabra for the second match running as he nurses a hamstring strain.

“We just need to win one game and get back that confidence,” Moosa said. “Maybe it is the next game and the dynamic will change. Top-4 is still possible. All teams are very close. We have to be careful and not concede easy goals.”

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On the other hand, Odisha boss Stuart Baxter is confident of building on his outfit’s encouraging recent form. “We had chances to beat bigger clubs like ATK [Mohun Bagan] but to do that against anybody we have to defend well, take our chances and play our own game,” the Brit said on match-eve. “If we do that with quality, we can run everybody close.”

While Diego Mauricio, who has scored six of Odisha’s 12 goals, is the side’s trump card, Baxter, whose team has the second-worst defensive record having conceded 19 goals, saw green shoots in the way his wards dealt with Hyderabad’s onslaught last Tuesday. Left-back Rakesh Pradhan, on loan from NorthEast United FC, made his debut and had a hand in Cole Alexander’s fine goal too.

“Pradhan made a confident debut; he got forward and his natural left foot helped us,” said Baxter. “We have been best when we tried to make a few changes. We’ll look at the energy levels of the players and make a decision. But we don't want to make a lot of changes. The team that we’ve been putting together has been coming together [well].”

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