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

Bengaluru FC look to end year on a high

Bengaluru FC

Bengaluru FC

Bengaluru FC will look to end the year on top of the table when they host Goa club Salgaocar FC at the Bangalore Football Stadium, in Bangalore on Saturday. This is the second meeting between the teams in the League after Ashley Westwood’s boys battled to a 1-2 win at the Duler Stadium a month ago.

Salgaocar may have dropped to sixth on the table since that game but Westwood isn’t using the standings as a measure of the visitors’ strength. “Salgaocar is a team with history and I am certain they are title contenders. We will have do all we can to try and match them,” said the Englishman.

In what is a much-needed assurance, central defender John Johnson returns to the squad after missing out in Bengaluru’s 0-2 loss to East Bengal last week. While the defeat may have brought a halt to Bengaluru’s unblemished no loss record at home, Westwood chose to see the bright side. “The morale of the team is good. If anything, the defeat was a relief in a way. The monkey is off our back and the team will play without any pressure,” said Westwood.

Salgaocar are on a run of their own but one they would be desperate to end. It has been six games since Derrick Pereira’s men have won a game and the chance to break the habit against the League leaders would work as added motivation for them. “We’ve had a good start to the season but things haven’t panned out as expected. We do need reinforcements and the January window will give us the chance to do that. We’ve played Bengaluru before and it without taking anything away from them, we played a bad game. But we are confident of putting on a better show tomorrow,” said Pereira who will be missing Karma Tsewang who looks like suffering a long lay-off with a knee condition.

Bengaluru will hope for Sunil Chhetri – who was on Friday named AIFF Player of The Year 2013 for the third time – to build on the goal scoring momentum he has managed to generate of late. The striker has six goals in his last four games and seems to be getting into perfect sync with partner Sean Rooney who has seven goals in the campaign this far. Salgaocar too have a strike threat in Scottish Darryl Duffy who is second on the scoring charts with eight goals, giving the game an interesting sub-plot.