BENGALURU: Sitting just a solitary point ahead of their main playoff qualification rivals, Bengaluru FC will have to notch all three points in their next Indian Super League (ISL) game against Mumbai City FC at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium on Wednesday to consolidate their position in fifth place.
This will be a tall order even for the Blues, who are the closest in terms of recent form with newly crowned League Shield Winners. The visitors are two unbeaten games away from becoming the first ISL team to go unbeaten in the league stage.
Morale is high for a Bengaluru FC side that extended their winning streak in the ISL to six games this past weekend, their longest-ever streak. A much-needed victory against arch-rivals Kerala Blasters FC handed the Blues the bragging rights and lofted them back up into the playoff spots.
On the flipside, Bengaluru FC was dealt blows during that win as Parag Shrivas and Roy Krishna picked up their fourth bookings of the season and will be suspended on Wednesday. Head coach Simon Grayson, who has fielded the same back-three in the last five games, will be forced to tweak it.
Aleksandar Jovanovic will likely replace Shrivas in defence, while Sunil Chhetri and Udanta Singh will be in line to replace Krishna in the attack.
“Congratulations to Mumbai City FC on winning the title. They have been outstanding all season. They are trying to be the only team to go unbeaten in the ISL, and our goal is to try and stop them and pick up three points,” said Grayson as quoted by an ISL press release.
“We enjoy these massive games. We had a fantastic result on the weekend. That is history and now we focus on the next game which is also a massive one,” he added.
Mumbai City FC’s resilient display to beat FC Goa and clinch the ISL 2022-23 League Shield on Saturday was also their 14th win of the campaign. Greg Stewart added a couple of goals to his tally, while Jorge Diaz cut the deficit behind East Bengal FC’s Cleiton Silva down to just one goal in this season’s Golden Boot race.
Lallianzuala Chhangte continued to impress on the right flank, adding a goal and an assist to tally this season.
No Mumbai City FC players picked up a booking in the last game and head coach Des Buckingham has no concerns revolving around the suspension of players.
“It is a wonderful achievement for everyone associated with the club, but we are not done. We still have two very important games in the league that we want to finish strongly,” said Buckingham.
“Then we have to try and chase a double. The semi-final will be against a very challenging and tough opponent. We are focused on the game against BFC, and then we will turn our attention to our home game, after which we can celebrate,” he added.
In 11 ISL encounters between the two sides, only four have gone in favour of the Blues, while the Islanders have emerged victorious on six occasions. (ANI)