Less than a week after an inspired win over league-leaders FC Goa kept them in the hunt for top spot in the Indian Super League standings, Bengaluru FC face yet another challenge, this time from a Jamshedpur FC side that’s keen on turning around a slump, as the two sides battle it out at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium, in Bengaluru, on Thursday.
The Blues come into this game one the back of an enthralling 2-1 win over Goa, and with seven games to go in the regular season, the performance and result seems like the perfect platform from which to launch a final charge. Jamshedpur have always proved to be tough opponents and the away leg that ended in a goalless draw, is a good indicator of the kind of fight that awaits Bengaluru.
“Jamshedpur FC have shown this season that they are a good team. Over the last two seasons too, they have been among the top-four teams for most parts. There is no question of being complacent against a side like them,” said Bengaluru FC assistant coach, Javi Pinillos, who will man the touchline for the Blues in place of a suspended Carles Cuadrat.
Antonio Iriondo’s side are winless in five games now, and the Red Miners will be desperate for a reaction if they are to stay in touch with the leading pack for the play-off slots. Ever since a key win over Goa in November, Jamshedpur have gone on to share points with NorthEast United, an out-of-sorts Kerala and Chennaiyin and lost all points against Mumbai and Odisha. What hasn’t helped their cause are injuries to key personnel in striker Sergio Castel and midfielder Piti – both of whom haven’t made the trip to Bengaluru.
The visitors, though, have added Spanish striker David Grande to their roster, while midfielder Noé Acosta returns to the squad after having sat out with an injury.
When asked if the team was worried about the lack of goals from players other than Sunil Chhetri, Pinillos replied in the negative. “We have been doing enough in every game to create chances that need finishing. We are certain that the other players will get the goals. In the away leg in Jamshedpur, Subrata was one of the best players on the pitch and that is an indicator of the kind of chances we are creating.”
In team news, new signing Deshorn Brown will not be available for selection as he is in the process of obtaining his visa, while midfielder Raphael Augusto could be in the reckoning after missing out against Goa.
In what should serve as added motivation for the hosts, Jamshedpur remain the only Indian Super League side that Bengaluru are yet to beat at the Fortress – something the Blues will be keen to change.
The game kicks off at 7.30 pm on Thursday and will be telecast on the Star Sports Network and Hotstar.