I-League: Bengaluru eye second consecutive win against Bagan

Indo Asian News Service

Kolkata, March 31 (IANS) Defending champions Bengaluru FC will look to recording their second consecutive win over Mohun Bagan when the two sides meet in an I-League encounter at the Rabindra Sarovar Stadium here on Saturday.

Bengaluru won 2-1 against Bagan in their Group E AFC Cup tie on March 14 after which the sides did not play due to a break in the season.

In between Bengaluru's seven players and Bagan's three regulars represented India against Cambodia in a friendly and then Myanmar in their Asian Cup 2019 qualifier.

Before the break, the sides played out a goalless draw at the Kanteerava Stadium on March 11.

Bagan (23 points from 12 matches) are in a three-horse title race along with arch-rivals East Bengal (27 points from 14 games) and table-toppers Aizawl FC (30 points from 14 ties).

Bengaluru are, however, out of the race for the championship as they are languishing in the fifth spot with only 18 points in their kitty from 13 outings.

"Our motivation is to play against Mohun Bagan. It's a team that everybody respects and this is a big motivation. We know we are out of the title contention but we will try to win that game for sure," Bengaluru coach Albert Roca told reporters on the eve of the game.

Asked if having so many national team players coming off two international matches is a disadvantage, Roca said Bagan have a slight advantage in this regard.

"It is a little advantage to them. In four days we have an important game in Maldives (Maziya Sports & Recreation) so we will have to manage the situation and play with a team tomorrow that can win," the Spaniard said after a training session at the Mohun Bagan ground.

Bengaluru, in their three years since inception, have won two I-League titles and one Federation Cup. But the Blues have failed to replicate their success this term under Roca. Asked about their dip in form, Roca took the blame on himself.

"Football is like this. It cannot be that every team is winning all time, it will be very boring then," he said.

"We did not play so bad, but we were not lucky in terms of goal. We have the best average. In terms of shots on target and have managed to keep more ball possession. But even then we have not got results. It's a philosophy. Where I come from, Spain is to keep the ball in control. It's my mistake. But when we try to change things, it's not so easy."

Mohun Bagan coach Sanjoy Sen said Saturday's game will be cruicial for his team.

"This will be one of the crucial matches for us," Sen said.

"Bengaluru are one of the strongest sides in I-League. It's a tough match for us."