ISL: Bengaluru to test reserves against Jamshedpur with playoffs in mind

Bengaluru was the first team to qualify for the play-offs while Jamshedpur missed the boat after a defeat and a draw in its previous two encounters.

Udanta Singh has been integral to Bengaluru's attack this season with five goals and two assists.   -  ISL/SPORTZPICS

Already through to the play-offs, Bengaluru FC would look test its bench strength when it takes on Jamshedpur FC in their final league game of the Indian Super League here on Wednesday.

Bengaluru is currently leading the table with 34 points from 17 games and was the first team to qualify for the play-offs.

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But the form of Carles Cuadrat’s side since the international break has been a concern. It, however, got its confidence back after a 3-0 win over FC Goa in the previous game and will now seek to finish the league stage on a positive note. But it would be easier said than done as Bengaluru has won only two of its last six matches.

The Blues have faced Jamshedpur three times and both teams have a win each. Its last meeting ended in a thrilling 2-2 draw in October, with Sergio Cidoncha netting a late equaliser in added time.

“We have a lot of people who have stayed back in Bengaluru. We are coming here with a mix of players. We are going to start four players in the starting XI who have played most of the season with the second team (BFC B),” Bengaluru coach Cuadrat said.

Cuadrat, who will be hoping to end Bengaluru’s winless run away from home after three losses and a draw in its last four trips, said three second-team players will also start on the bench.

“We have the privilege because we are for sure going to finish first in the league. We are not fighting for second or third anymore. We have left some players to save them travel and avoid injuries. It’s a chance for us to give the fringe players an opportunity,” he said.

Jamshedpur has had a season full of mixed results and has played nine draws this season, the highest tally for a club in the league stage in ISL.

After a shocking 1-4 defeat against FC Pune City, it was held by Chennaiyin in its last match, a result that crushed its hopes of qualifying.

“Like the top four teams, we did not have a striker scoring consistently but most of our goals were shared between our attackers. The lack of finishing is perhaps why we have had so many draws. Of course, missing out on the top-four is a disappointment,” said coach Cesar Ferrando.

With play-off spot no longer available, Jamshedpur would look to pocket a morale boosting win.

“It’s the last game in front of our home fans and we want to win it for them. I am delighted with the performance of the team and I wish we can finish the season on a high with a win against Bengaluru,” said the coach.