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

Bengaluru FC battle Mohun Bagan in ‘winner-takes-all’ I-League showdown

I-League: Bengaluru FC v Mohun Bagan AC - Pre-Match Press Conference
I-League: Bengaluru FC v Mohun Bagan AC - Pre-Match Press Conference

Photo Courtesy: I-League Media

In a script that couldn’t have been penned down any better, Bengaluru FC take on Mohun Bagan AC in a game the Blues must win to cap off a historic I-League title defence at what will be a packed Kanteerava Stadium, in Bengaluru, on Sunday evening. The two teams have been battling toe to toe all season and Ashley Westwood said his boys would be taking the pitch just the way they have been doing all season – with no pressure.

Instead, the gaffer threw down the gauntlet to Bagan citing their dismal away form. “There’s no pressure whatsoever. We’ve had a really successful season. We already have two trophies in the cabinet in the Federation Cup and the I-League and are playing at home where we are really strong. We’ve lost just one game at home while Bagan have won just two games away from home. The pressure is surely on them because we are the in form side and they seem to be having a dismal run,” said Westwood while addressing a rather packed press conference on Saturday.

The equation, as it stands, leaves the Blues with no option but to win if they are to retain the crown. Mohun Bagan, on the other hand, need just the point to claim what will be their first I-League title. However, Bagan coach Sanjoy Sen said his team wouldn’t be making much of any equation. “We know we need a point but will be going out there for a win.”

Bengaluru are on a twelve-game unbeaten run in the I-League and made most of Bagan’s slip up from a comfortable position after the Kolkata side shared points with Mumbai FC and then went on to suffer defeats to Bharat FC and Sporting Clube de Goa. The blip was enough for Westwood’s boys to cash in on, leaving them with a shot at the title on Sunday.

On the fitness front, neither of the teams are losing any sleep with everyone available. “We don’t have any injuries which is a huge testament to the club. Everyone’s worked hard and looked after themselves. It’s been a long season and to have no injuries is a bonus. It means that we’re conditioned right and ready for the challenge,” opined Westwood.

If numbers are a benchmark, Bagan have the best defence in the League and the duel between the Kolkata club’s back four against a Bengaluru side who have scored the most goals in the League should be a cracker of a contest.

When asked whether chasing a win would mean Bengaluru take the pitch with added pressure, Westwood said it would be otherwise. “We know that we’re big game players we played in Dempo last season where we needed to win the League. We played the Federation Cup where we needed to win so we’re a good competitive side and we can handle most occasions.”

The game kicks off at 19.00 IST.