Defending champions Bengaluru FC will have their task cut out when they take on neighbours Chennai City FC in a much-anticipated quarterfinal clash of the Hero Super Cup at the Kalinga Stadium, in Bhubaneswar on Thursday. With either side basking in triumphs of the competitions they take part in, the game will pit the champions of I-League and the Indian Super League against each other for the first time ever in a competitive clash.
“It will be a nice game, with winners of the two different competitions of the country going up against each other and I’m sure it will be a good show for the supporters. We are aware of the qualities that Chennai City have, because we played them in the pre-season. In fact, they are the only Indian team to have beaten us there this season. We know that they are dangerous and can create a lot of problems for us,” said Head Coach Carles Cuadrat ahead of the tie.
Both teams go into the game on the back of different circumstances. While the Blues received a bye in their Round of 16 clash against Mohun Bagan, Chennai City carry the advantage of having played a competitive game in the Kalinga Stadium.
“We’re all eager to play football. We, as coaches and players, would always want to play matches. It would be special to win two trophies in a season and we want to be competitive and try to do our best to reach the final and hopefully it can happen. It’s a tough competition because to win it, you have to win all the games. One bad day, and you are out of the competition. It’s like having to play three finals, but we are ready for the fight,” expressed Cuadrat.
Akbar Nawaz’s side secured their quarterfinal berth after a thrilling 4-2 win over FC Pune City, and despite playing most of the second half with ten men, they managed to outsmart Phil Brown’s side to claim a late win thanks to Pedro Manzi’s hat-trick.
The Spaniard will be the Blues biggest threat, and was I-League’s top-scorer with 21 goals from 18 games, at more than one goal per game. In fact, his hat-trick against Pune in the Round of 16 clash was his fifth of the season, having bagged four trebles in the I-League. “I’m quite aware of the qualities the foreigners bring to the Chennai side, especially Manzi. He is quite similar to Miku and both of them bring a lot more than just goals to their sides. Their movement in and around the box also helps teammates in creating more scoring opportunities. It will be an interesting battle for both sides, in offense and defence as well.”
While the Blues might not have played a game in Bhubaneswar this season, they do carry forward an impressive record. Bengaluru hasn’t lost a game in the city and in fact, have a perfect record at the Kalinga Stadium, winning five out of five games at the venue, the most by any team. Chennai City meanwhile hasn’t lost to many teams as well, and if the Blues manage to get a win, they will become only the third side to do that this season. “We know that Chennai have lost three times, and they have only lost against two teams in the I-League. Real Kashmir and Churchill Brothers are the only teams to have managed to beat them. It’s a very good statistic for them, and shows how tough a side they are. We will have to try and be the third team to beat them,” added Cuadrat.
On the team news front, Bengaluru will be missing the services of defender Rino Anto who has picked up an injury and has not made the trip. Meanwhile, Charles Lourdusamy will miss out for the Coimbatore-based side after being sent off in the clash against Pune.
The game kicks off at 8.30 pm on Thursday and will be live on the Star Sports Network, Hotstar and Jio TV.