Bengaluru FC begin a slew of vital away games over the next two weeks with a trip to Goa where they take on bottom-placed Sporting Clube de Goa in an I-League encounter at the Fatorda Stadium, on Saturday. The Blues, who travel to play Mumbai FC (March 3) and Indonesian side Persipura Jayapura (March 10), will be keen to start the challenging schedule on the right note against a side that’s yet to register a win in the I-League.
Ashley Westwood’s team put aside the disappointment of a 1-4 League defeat at Mohun Bagan to give Bengaluru their first win in Asian football – a 2-1 result over Maldivian side Maziya S&RC at the Kanteerava Stadium, on Tuesday. Shankar Sampingiraj scored a dramatic injury-time winner after Sunil Chhetri scored his second goal in as many games in a victory that Bengaluru will look to use as a springboard.
Though Bengaluru enjoy a 3-0 record over Sporting across competitions, the Blues will be wary of the Goa club who will throw all they have in pursuit of their first win in the league this season. “Sporting Clube are a good side and capable of producing good performances as we saw in the 1-1 draw they had against Pune. Despite being a goal down, they clawed back into the game and for the last half hour, looked like the team that deserved the win. They have good foreigners among their ranks and though their position on the table isn’t the best, we know we will have to churn out a good performance to get something out of this game,” said Westwood on the eve of the game.
The Fatorda has been a happy hunting ground for the Blues who lifted the I-League and Federation Cup titles with wins at the Stadium and are yet to lose a game here. In fact, the last time the two teams met was at the same venue in the semifinal of the Federation Cup where Bengaluru came away with a 3-0 result.
On the injury front, Bengaluru seem to be without much worry. Sean Rooney, who missed a couple of games with a sore groin, made an appearance as a substitute in the AFC Cup win that also saw the return of Lalchhuanmawia and Rino Anto. A call on midfielder Joshua Walker, who limped out of the same game with a thigh strain, will be taken by Westwood on Saturday morning.