Bengaluru face Jamshedpur challenge at home
Bengaluru: Defending champions Bengaluru FC face an out-of-form Jamshedpur FC in an Indian Super League clash at the Sree Kanteerava stadium here on Thursday. Bengaluru are coming into this tie on the back of a confidence-boosting 2-1 win over FC Goa and will fancy their chances against a Jamshedpur side who are winless in five matches. Carles Cuadrat side, placed third on the table with 19 points from 11 matches, can consolidate their spot in the top four with a win on Thursday. Jamshedpur, meanwhile, cannot afford to lose. Given that they are sixth with 13 points from 10 matches, a loss will see them fall further behind in the race for the top-four spots.
Captain Sunil Chhetri, who was instrumental in Bengaluru's win against FC Goa with two brilliant goals, will once again be the key man for the home side. Chhetri has scored seven goals already this season and has been a saving grace for Bengaluru's attack which has scored just 13 goals so far. Cuadrat will be worried with the poor run of form his wingers Udanta Singh and Ashique Kuruniyan are going through but will hope new recruit Deshorn Brown is able to make an immediate impact.
"Sunil Chhetri is our top scorer but we are creating chances, but other players should also score. All the attacking players are working hard to score. I am sure they will help us during the next matches. We play in a good way and we create a lot of chances," said Bengaluru goalkeeping coach Javier Pinillos. Another factor going in favour of Bengaluru is their water-tight defence which has let in just seven goals this season. It will be a huge ask for Jamshedpur FC, who are without their star striker Sergio Castel, to breach the Blues' backline.
"Jamshedpur FC have shown this season that they play very good football and that they are a very good side. We have to be careful of them and prepare well. We cannot be overconfident," said Pinillos. Jamshedpur, who are desperate for a win, need to show a lot more application and resolve than what they have shown so far. Antonio Iriondo's side have missed Sergio Castel and Piti, without whom the team has looked different. The form of Farukh Chowdhury and Aniket Jadhav has tapered off as well, all of which have led to a poor run of form for the 'Men of Steel' that has seen them pick only three points from the last five games.
"Every match is different, you have to create chances and then finish the chances. Without Sergio Castel, we are creating chances, but we are not able to finish those chances. Obviously, his absence is worrying. He is still not fit to play. Hopefully, he will be able to play from the next match," said Iriondo. Defensive lapses have not helped them either. They have conceded six goals in the last three games with individual errors at the back scuppering Iriondo's plans. They have to be vigilant throughout on Thursday, given Bengaluru often force the issue in the second half.
Iriondo will hope the return of Noe Acosta from injury will help his team. "We are facing Bengaluru. I love to play against great teams. It is a very good chance for me to look at how the team has been improving. We have been improving in the game, but we are not getting the goals due to Sergio's injury," Iriondo said.