ISL: High-flying Bengaluru FC eyes playoff spot

A win for Bengaluru FC (30 points) against struggling Kerala Blasters will guarantee a spot in the next round.

Players of Kerala Blasters during a training session ahead of their match against Bengaluru FC.   -  K. Murali Kumar

An early ticket to the Indian Super League (ISL) playoff round awaits Bengaluru FC (BFC), when it takes on struggling Kerala Blasters here on Wednesday.

A win for BFC (30 points) will guarantee a spot in the next round, and the unit will be keen to achieve the goal in front of its home fans.

Venezuelan striker Miku is set to return to action – a huge boost indeed. “Miku is back in our team for tomorrow, and available for selection,” BFC head coach Carles Cuadrat said here on Tuesday.

It remains to be seen if new-signing Luis Manuel Villa will feature in the clash. Cuadrat stated that midfielder Villa, brought in to replace winger Chencho Gyeltshen, fits the team’s requirements.

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“When Dimas (Delgado) or Miku are not on the pitch, we tend to lose the ball. Luisma (Villa) is the kind of player who can help us keep possession. Luisma is available for selection, but I cannot reveal if he will play tomorrow,” Cuadrat said.

Kerala Blasters (10 points), on the other hand, has no chance of making it to the playoff stage. It has been a real struggle for the side this season, having won just one out of 14 matches thus far. Nelo Vingada replaced David James as the coach last month, but the team is yet to turn the corner.

Even Cuadrat had a few sympathetic words for the visitor. “I feel sorry for Kerala Blasters, because their supporters are great. I have nice memories of playing against Kerala – the match atmosphere has always been electric. Sometimes a team can get stuck in a bad situation, and this affects your self-confidence,” Cuadrat said.

Vingada called on his players to put up an inspired show, against the ISL table-topper. “If a man loses his money, he can earn it back. But if he loses his dignity, it is gone forever," Vingada said.

Cuadrat makes an appeal

Carles Cuadrat has called on ISL coaches to refrain from arguing with referees during matches. Heated discussions between coaches and fourth officials have been a common occurrence this season, and Cuadrat believes that this sort of behaviour serves no purpose.

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“It’s difficult for referees, because they are under a lot of pressure. They need help. Indian football has to think of setting up some referee courses, and bringing in some international referees to train and support them. We (coaches) argue with them a lot during matches. For their sake, we should be more calm,” Cuadrat said.

“When a team is fighting for points, coaches feel compelled to protest some decisions. But I've heard other coaches say false things to referees. Coaches ask for a penalty when it is clearly not a penalty. Coaches claim off-side goals, when television replays show that their player was at least five metres offside. We (coaches) should make things easier for the referees,” he also said.