ISL 2018: Unbeaten Bengaluru FC hosts winless Delhi Dynamos

ISL 2018: Bengaluru FC will look to maintain its unbeaten start to the Indian Super League season when it hosts Delhi Dynamos on Monday.

Bengaluru FC will soar to the top of the Indian Super League table if it defeats Delhi Dynamos on Monday.   -  ISL MEDIA

The last time Bengaluru FC (BFC) played on its home turf at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium was more than seven weeks ago. In the time since then, the side has notched up four impressive away victories, has racked up the best defensive record in the Indian Super League conceding just five goals and is joint-top of the table (16 points from six matches) with FC Goa despite having played two games fewer.

Its return to the city for the game against bottom-placed Delhi Dynamos on Monday ought to have been a happy occasion for the club faithful but will instead be somewhat muted. The demise of popular actor-politician Ambareesh, whose mortal remains were kept at the Stadium on Sunday for the public to pay their last respects, will render the atmosphere slightly sullen.

Bengaluru FC players engage in a training session on the eve of their clash against Delhi Dynamos.   -  ISL MEDIA

 

But the side remains focussed on the task. Dynamos is still winless this season but BFC coach Carles Cuadrat warned against complacency. “Delhi is the only team to yet register a win and that makes it a dangerous opposition,” he said on match-eve. “It will try harder than ever and we need to enter this game by turning a blind eye to the points table.”

The Catalan though will again miss the services of star striker Miku as he tends to an injured ankle. Playmaker Dimas Delgado’s absence, while he serves a one-match suspension after being sent off against FC Goa in the last fixture, will be a significant blow. Midfielder Erik Paartalu remains a doubt even as he is back in training after recuperating from a toe injury.

Delhi Dynamos will be keen to claim its first win of the Indian Super League season when it takes on Bengaluru FC on Monday.   -  ISL MEDIA

 

Whether the Dynamos can capitalise remains to be seen. The side didn’t have the best of starts as its practise session on Sunday morning at the Stadium had to be cancelled because of the prevailing situation. Instead the outfit travelled a good 25kms to the Padukone-Dravid Centre for Sports Excellence on the outskirts of the city, but could only train on an artificial surface.

It has had two weeks’ rest and boasts of a fully fit squad for only the third time this season. But it is to be seen if it be enough for fresh ideas to take root and help an attack which has scored just seven times and a defence which has leaked 13 goals so far this season.

Chhetri to play 150th game for BFC

Club talisman Sunil Chhetri, the only player still to be at Bengaluru FC since its inception more than five years ago, is set to feature in his 150th game for the side across competitions.

“I wasn’t aware of it till someone told me about it last week,” said Chhetri. “I don’t really make much of landmarks and milestones but given how much I’ve travelled as a footballer, it feels nice to have played 150 games for one club.”

“There is something special about the way Bengaluru FC does things and I haven’t had a clue how 149 games have flown by. I've had more success than setbacks and more joy than disappointment through this period,” he added.

Coach Carles Cuadrat was wholesome in his praise. “Sunil has been a tremendous influence on the club for the last six years,” he said. “He is a fantastic person and professional and we’re all proud of what he has achieved. We hope we can get the result to make the occasion even more special.”