In a fixture that has more significance than always, Bengaluru FC take on Kerala Blasters FC knowing a win against their rivals from the south will make Carles Cuadrat’s men the first team to book a place in the semifinal of this season’s Indian Super League at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium, in Bengaluru, on Wednesday.
The Blues, sitting pretty atop the table with 30 points from 13 games, will look to seal the play-off berth on Wednesday, affording Cuadrat to rest players and rotate the squad. However, the Bengaluru FC boss is firm about not taking the positions of both teams on the table into account when his sides steps out on the pitch.
Kerala, who are having a season to forget with just one win from fourteen games and are in 9th position, will be looking to salvage pride against a team they are yet to beat in three games. The visitors used the international break to reshuffle personnel at the club and started by sacking coach David James and bringing in Portuguese Nelo Vingada. They also loaned out CK Vineeth and Halicharan Narzary to bottom-placed Chennaiyin FC. “Kerala have had a difficult season and are mathematically out of the race to secure a top-four position. But that makes them more dangerous on the night because they will play without any fear or pressure. They will look to give their supporters some joy. We, on the other hand, are one step away from achieving our first target – that of making the semifinal. Both, Kerala and us will be fighting it out for different reasons. But you can be rest assured that we won’t be doing Kerala any favours. We will go out there and play to seal our spot,” said Cuadrat.
In what is welcome news for Bengaluru FC, striker Miku has recovered from an ankle injury that kept him out for eight games, and will have a part to play in the fixture. “Miku will be part of the squad for tomorrow’s game. He has been working hard to recover and he will have some part to play on Wednesday,” said Cuadrat. Another name that could also feature on the team sheet is that of Spaniard Luisma Villa. The midfielder joined the Blues till the end of the season and has been training for a week since arriving in Bengaluru. “Luisma, along with Dimas and Xisco, gives us options to keep the ball a lot more than we have been in the recent past. He will need time to get comfortable with the way we have been training, but he comes with experience and I am sure he will help us.”
Kerala, meanwhile, have a set-back in defence with hard-working left-back Lalruatthara not making the trip to Bengaluru after picking up a red card in the 2-0 loss to Delhi Dynamos last week.
The game kicks off at 7.30 pm and will be live across the Star Sports Network, Hotstar and Jio TV.