Less than 48 hours of making the last four of the Federation Cup, Bengaluru FC will take the pitch at the Barabati Stadium, in Cuttack, on Sunday with Aizawl FC standing between Albert Roca’s men and a place in the final.
The 2015 Federation Cup champions left it late in the tournament where a 1-1 draw against Mohun Bagan in the last group stage game was enough to see them through. And Bengaluru’s Spanish manager hopes that his side can recover in time and turn up with the goods against the I-League champions who have had the luxury of an extra day to recover before the big fixture.
“It isn’t the ideal recovery period before a big game but we’re going to keep that aside and focus on the job ahead. I was happy with the way the team applied themselves against Bagan on Friday and we will need a bigger performance than that against Aizawl who are riding high in confidence after their I-League triumph,” said Roca.
The Blues will however be without talismanic skipper Sunil Chhetri who limped out in the second half against Bagan with a muscle injury, one that Roca fears will keep him out for the remainder of the season. “I don’t need to spell out how important a player Sunil is and it’s unfortunate that he has to sit out. We are waiting on reports from scans to know the extent of his injury. But we have always been a team that pushes and pulls together and I’m confident of everyone working even harder,” said Roca who has midfielder Eugeneson Lyngdoh back from suspension for the fixture.
With Chhetri out, Roca has options in CK Vineeth, Mandar Rao Dessai and Udanta Singh while Cornell Glen, who was an unused substitute on Friday, too could have a role to play. “There are options on this team and it’s a good problem to have. The boys know how much we have been through in a very short time in this tournament and we will be stretching ourselves against Aizawl in our attempt to go a step ahead.”
Bengaluru have had the upper hand over Aizawl in League, drawing against Khalid Jamil’s side in Mizoram and beating them in Bengaluru. The League champions, in the quest of a double, came from two goals down to beat Chennai City FC in their tournament opener and followed it up with a winner at the death against Churchill Brothers before playing out a goalless draw against fellow semifinalists East Bengal.
The game kicks off at 16.00 IST and will be beamed live on the Ten 2 network.