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

Bengaluru FC face Chennaiyin FC in top-of-the-table clash

Bengaluru FC players Harmanjot Khabra and Miku share a light moment in training at the SDAT Nehru Park, in Chennai (Photo courtesy: Bengaluru FC)

Albert Roca backed his side to battle fatigue from a tight schedule and called on them to be brave when Bengaluru FC take on Chennaiyin FC in clash between the top two sides of the Indian Super League at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, in Chennai, on Tuesday. The Blues, who played and beat ATK on Saturday before making the trip to Chennai, will travel back to Bengaluru to face FC Goa on Friday.

“It’s not really an ideal situation, but it’s also not one that I want to spend too much time moaning about. I want my boys to be brave when they take the pitch tomorrow and build on the winning momentum we have started. The target has always been a top-four finish and if we come away with a good result tomorrow, we get nearer to our goal.”

It took a late goal in Kanteerava in December to give Chennaiyin a 2-1 win and break Bengaluru hearts and the two sides have been going toe-to toe for a stronghold on top of the table since then. “The game in Kanteerava against Chennaiyin was one of our tougher fixtures in the season and I expect nothing less this time around too. Both, us and them, have been consistent in staying in the top two positions on the table and that should give you an indication of the kind of game you can expect,” said Roca.

In what will be a vital miss for Bengaluru, defender Rahul Bheke will sit out of the fixture after he was sent off in the win over ATK, on Saturday. However, Harmanjot Khabra returns to the side to face is former team for the first time after serving a one-game suspension on accumulating four yellow cards.

“It’s a shame that Rahul will miss this game but it’s a situation that’s beyond our control. On the other hand, it’s good to have Khabra back. He’s spent a few seasons in Chennai and his experience will definitely play a role in the game. Braulio (Nobrega) looks out for the season and that is another disappointment that we will have to deal with,” said the Spanish manager.

While they sit on second in the table, Chennaiyin have been going through a bit of an inconsistent patch, being held to a draw against Delhi Dynamos and a suffering 3-1 defeat to NorthEast United between wins over Jamshedpur, Pune and ATK. However, John Gregory will be buoyed by the form striker Jeje Lalpekhlua is in the midst of, that seen him score seven goals in the campaign so far.

Bengaluru’s hit-men too have been on song with Miku scoring his 10th goal of the season in the 2-0 win over ATK, while captain Sunil Chhetri continues to lead the Indian goal-scoring list with eight goals.

The game kicks off at 8 pm IST and will be telecast across the Star Sports network, HotStar and Jio TV.

(Bengaluru FC)