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Bengaluru on the road as Chennaiyin challenge awaits

Bengaluru FC midfielder Danish Farooq putting in a shift at Gold's Gym. (Photo courtesy: Bengaluru FC)
Bengaluru FC midfielder Danish Farooq putting in a shift at Gold's Gym. (Photo courtesy: Bengaluru FC)

Simon Grayson and his Bengaluru FC side begin a month-long away sojourn when they take on Chennaiyin FC, at the JLN Stadium, in Chennai, on Friday. The Blues, who began their 2022-23 Indian Super League campaign with a 1-0 win over NorthEast United at the Kanteerava Stadium on Saturday, will face Thomas Brdaric’s side in what is the first of three away games on the spin.

“We’re traveling to Chennai with the same intent that we had at home and that is to win the game. In terms of preparations, it isn’t very different from when we play at home. We want to be positive and build on what we’ve managed to do so far. It’s always tough to go away, but we have strong characters on our team who I believe can manage it well,” said Grayson, speaking to the press on the eve of the encounter.

Chennaiyin, under new boss Brdaric, rode on strikes from Kwame Karikari and Rahim Ali to beat ATK Mohun Bagan 2-1 in their opening game of the campaign. The Marina Machans came away with the three points despite having half as many shots as their opposition on the night and Grayson said it was a pattern he will look to avoid when his side visit the JLN Stadium.

“If you look at the games that have happened so far, Odisha couldn’t handle the opening minutes against Jamshedpur, and Chennaiyin couldn’t do the same against ATK Mohun Bagan. But both Odisha and Chennaiyin managed to stay in contention and get positive results. We’ve got to be wary of this, have a clear idea of what we want to do to manage the game,” Grayson added.

Having won their last two competitive games through set-pieces, first the Durand Cup final and then the encounter against the Highlanders, Grayson mentioned that dead-ball situations were vital to his side, but stressed that the Blues would do well not to be over-reliant on them.

“We’ve done a lot of work on set-pieces and on variations. We’ve got some big players in Sandesh (Jhingan), Aleks (Jovanovic), Alan (Costa), Bruno (Ramires), so we have to take advantage of that. In Roy (Krishna), Sunil (Chhetri) and Sivasakthi (Narayanan), we’ve got some good poachers as well, and when players like Javi and Roshan can deliver the ball well, you’ve got to make use of it. At the same time, we don’t want to be over-reliant on set-pieces either. We had some decent opportunities from open play against NorthEast United and we’ll look to put them away sooner rather than later,” said Grayson.

Kick-off between the Blues and Chennaiyin FC is scheduled for 7.30 pm on Friday, with telecast available on the STAR Sports network, Disney+Hotstar and JioTV.

(Bengaluru FC)