The story so far…
Bengaluru FC were the quickest out of the blocks in this season’s ISL winning their first two games and quickly opening up a three-point lead at the top of the table. However, their 4-3 loss to FC Goa last time out ended their winning start in thrilling fashion.
NorthEast United have started slowly, drawing 0-0 in the opening round of games before losing 3-0 to Chennaiyin. Their confidence will have been boosted by the 2-0 in Delhi last time out.
The press conference…
Bengaluru FC Head Coach Albert Roca was full of praise for NorthEast United after their win in Delhi, saying the match was going to be difficult.
“I like the way NEUFC won in Delhi. They looked organized and it’s going to be difficult for us and we will have to be at our best”.
Roca has his first two choice goalkeepers unavailable for the match and admitted this is a problem.
“I have some problems at the back with regards to goalkeepers, but they are circumstances that I cannot change. I am confident in my ‘keepers, and that whoever plays will do his job well”.
There were question marks over the availability of star player Sunil Chhetri after he recently got married but Roca was keen to put the record straight and praised the Indian’s professionalism.
“The situation with Sunil Chhetri? He’s married, and he’s available for tomorrow. He joined the team here and he’s ready. I think he’s the most professional player I’ve had in my career”.
Roca has an added challenge which no other ISL Head Coach has to factor in – Bengaluru’s participation in the AFC Cup. He commented,
“The AFC Cup commitments come in during the Indian Super League and we have to be prepared. We have to be careful about injuries, and we’ll have to plan well”.
NorthEast United’s boss Joao de Deus is happy with how his team are progressing on the training field.
“Bengaluru are a good opponent. For sure we are better today than we were 15 days ago when we played here against Jamshedpur FC. It is not because of the win (against Delhi Dynamos) but because of the 15 days of practice”.
“15 days more of closeness to create our identity, so we are better. I am sure our opponents for tomorrow are better too than their first game, so tomorrow will be a good match”.
De Deus was keen to play down the impact of Bengaluru missing their first choice goalkeepers.
“The advantage would be if they played without a goalkeeper but that won’t happen. They will play with a goal-keeper. To be honest, I don’t care about it, I only think about my team”.
And on the subject of his own team, he talked happily about Halicharan Narzary becoming a vital part of the side following his injury.
“With Halicharan Narzary it was a difficult process for us since he didn’t make in the pre-season with us. He was always away with the national team. He didn’t know our concepts, didn’t understand our game. That’s why he didn’t play in the first match. In the second he got a little bit more time.
“In the third, he had already spent four weeks with us so he had a good time to understand the concept and his team-mates. So at this moment, he is completely re-integrated with the team”.
The game itself…
NorthEast are believed to have a full squad to select from and will be very mindful of Bengaluru’s ability from set-pieces. Australian Erik Paartalu has three goals already this season from Bengaluru’s dead ball delivery. All eyes will be on Marcinho to continue the good form he showed against Delhi and keep an eye on Nazary from the wide areas.
Bengaluru FC will want to bounce back from the seven-goal thriller against FC Goa. As previously stated, they have issues in goal but other than that have a full complement to pick from. Up front Miku has had a fine start to the season and will look to cause the NorthEast backline all kinds of problems with his strength and direct style which should create space for Chhetri to play in.