CPD FOOTBALL | THE BLOG | The World of Indian football and beyond by Chris Punnakkattu Daniel

Bengaluru FC hope to seize advantage in chilly Shillong

Bengaluru FC

Bengaluru FC

Bengaluru FC coach Ashley Westwood said he will not be counting Rangdajied United’s battle with relegation as an indicator of the side his team will be playing at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, in Shillong on Saturday. The clubs, at either extremes of the I-League table, have met two times this season where Bengaluru have come out winners once while their Federation Cup meeting ended in a draw.

The League leaders would also look at this as the ideal chance to stretch their lead at the top of the table to six points after second-placed Sporting Clube de Goa went down 1-3 to Mohammedan Sporting in Kolkata on Friday.

“Rangdajied have a new coach and a new signing. We have played them twice and they are definitely better than what the League table suggests,” said Westwood at the pre-match press conference on Friday.

Placed 13th, Rangdajied lost patience with former coach Santosh Kashyap and Herring Shangplian is the new man at the helm for a week now. The Shillong team has also brought in Ranti Martins from United SC to shore up their attack.

The weather in the hill city has been chilly over the last few days and showers on the eve of the game haven’t made matters better. But Westwood believes the climate would make it a good game. “We aren’t going to see anyone cramping up or dehydrated and that will surely make it a good game.”

Skipper Sunil Chhetri returns to the side after sitting out of the draw against Mumbai FC last week and it would be interesting to see what first XI Westwood chooses to field. Rangdajied, meanwhile, will miss their Japanese left-back Yohei Iwasaki who sits out with a suspension. Interestingly, given the number of clubs he has been with, it will be the first time that Chhetri plays in Shillong. “I have always heard about the fans and atmosphere here and I’m looking forward to the game tomorrow. We just need to stick to what we have been doing and hopefully we can walk away with a good result from here,” he said. The game kicks off at 17.00 IST.