Bengaluru FC begin a key and hectic run of games over the week when they travel to Kolkata to battle East Bengal Club at the Salt Lake Stadium, on Wednesday. Playing as many as three games in a span of eight days including a clash with Royal Wahingdoh in chilly Shillong and the AFC Champions League trip to Malaysia, Ashley Westwood’s team are aware of the task that lies ahead.
While history (East Bengal enjoy a 3-0 win record over Bengaluru) and recent results may not give the Blues a big chance, Westwood has more than a resilient bunch who are no strangers to battling odds and coming out trumps. Though last Saturday at home against Pune didn’t quiet go according to plan, Westwood had a second half full of positives to pick from.
A sore hamstring delaying his first league start in Bengaluru’s opener, Joshua Walker made the first XI in the game against Pune and managed a full 90 minutes which bodes well for the visitors given the difference the Englishman’s presence makes.
“We’ve played East Bengal three times and lost three times so it’s a record as bad as it can get and we’re happy to go into this game as underdogs. They have a good side and the crowd will be behind them. It’s going to be a good, tough game and one that we will be well prepared for,” said Westwood at the pre-game press conference on Tuesday.
East Bengal, like Bengaluru, began their league campaign with a shared point after a 1-1 draw against Sporting Clube de Goa and the Kolkata club will be keen to get their League campaign off the blocks after a disappointing Federation Cup outing where they failed to make it out of the group stages. With Armand Colaco at the helm, East Bengal have done a complete rejig with their foreign signing for the season, bringing in Leo Bertos, Milan Susak to join familiar faces in Dudu and Ranti Martins.
While Westwood said that the hosts had a great squad, it meant nothing on the day. “Names mean nothing. It’s all about who performs on the day. Last season we had the worst squad on paper but went on to win the League. So, you can never tell.” The game kicks off at 19.00 IST.