Bengaluru FC seek playoffs relevance as Odisha FC look at steering ahead on the table
After clinching all three points last week, Bengaluru FC will have their eyes set on the final playoff spot when they face Odisha FC in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru on Saturday. The Blues are six points off sixth place, currently occupied by FC Goa. Odisha FC are three points ahead of the Gaurs and will be looking to extend that advantage and move up the table.
A resilient Bengaluru FC side were about to drop a couple of points last week against NorthEast United FC when the clock struck 90 with both teams level. Alan Costa struck against the Highlanders for the second time this season to score the winning goal in the 94th minute.
Siva Narayanan scored his first goal of the campaign last week. The 21-year-old was starting games regularly at the start of the season but was benched for seven games before starting the match last week.
The young striker is expected to retain his position in the starting eleven as head coach Simon Grayson’s concern for his misfiring strikers Roy Krishna and Sunil Chhetri rises. Krishna fired a blank against the Highlanders, while Chhetri came on close to the 80th minute. (Club statistics)
“Any time you win a match, the players are jubilant. But also, we have not achieved anything. After winning the last game, we have returned to work and focused on the Odisha game,” said Grayson. “We have got to do something that we have not done this season, and that is trying to get back-to-back wins. That way, we will have a far happier camp on Sunday morning,” he said.
Misfiring strikers will not be a concern ahead of the next match for Odisha FC head coach Josep Gombau after last week’s performance. The Juggernauts laid their four-game winless streak to rest against East Bengal FC with a comfortable 3-1 win.
Raynier Fernandez set up two chances which were converted to goals by Diego Mauricio on both occasions, as he became the club’s leading goalscorer this season with seven goals in 13 matches.
Winger Nandhakumar Sekar also ended his short two-game goal drought after scoring his fifth goal of the season against the Torch Bearers. Gombau will likely field an unchanged eleven against Bengaluru FC. (Club statistics)
“Last game was very good. We’re happy with the result. Now it’s time for a new challenge in Bengaluru. Our aim is to try and get a good result in the game that is scheduled right before our small break next week,” said Gombau. “The last part of the season will have lots of games in a short span of time and the team needs to be ready for this. We will approach the next game with a strong and positive mentality,” he added.
To date, the two sides have clashed seven times in the Hero ISL. The Blues have won four of these encounters, while the Juggernauts have emerged victorious twice, including the victory they secured in the reverse fixture earlier this season. (Hero ISL standings)