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

Focus shifts to Pune as Bengaluru FC look to stay atop the table

Bengaluru FC striker Udanta Singh trains at the FC Pune City training grounds, in Pirangut, Pune. (Photo courtesy: Bengaluru FC)

The wheels take Bengaluru FC to Maharashtra next where Albert Roca’s league leaders square off against FC Pune City in a clash that has all the indications of an intriguing battle, if form is a measure.

While his team have got the season off to a near-perfect start, Roca believes that it is games against sides like FC Pune City that will further test the Blues’ resolve to stay on the top of the Indian Super League (ISL) table. “It’s really early in the season but you can tell that Pune are serious contenders for a play-off spot. There are three other teams with the same points as us and Pune is one of them. Thursday is going to test us and we have to be prepared and focused on the task at hand.”

Bengaluru were made to toil before they came away with all points against NorthEast United in Guwahati last week and Roca feels his side can take a lot of confidence from the night. “We had to work really hard for those three points and while wasn’t free-flowing and comfortable, it said a lot about what the team is capable of in different situations and away from home,” said Roca.

Ranko Popovic-coached Pune too come into the clash with a win away from home when they edged past Jamshedpur FC 1-0 to move to nine points from five games. Pune’s attacking duo of Marcelinho and Emiliano Alfaro have been among the goals (6 between them) and it will need another display of stubborn defending if the Blues are to keep them at bay.

In team news for the Blues, ’keeper Lalthuammawia Ralte – who had a fantastic game against NorthEast – will start in goal while Gurpreet Singh Sandhu continues to serve the second of his two-game suspension. Roca had two more changes in Dimas Delgado and Subhasish Bose for Lenny Rodrigues and Juanan Gonzalez and it needs to be seen whether the Spaniard tinkers with the line-up or not.

With former Bengaluru defender Lalchhuanmawia suspended on Thursday, the fixture’s been robbed of what would have been an entertaining battle of pace between Udanta Singh and the Pune City left-back. Udanta put in a tremendous shift in Guwahati and the Blues will look to the youngster for an encore against what will be a tough Pune side.

The game kicks off at 20.00 IST and will be telecast live on the Star Sports network, HotStar and JioTV.

(Bengaluru FC)