Guwahati: In a battle between two sides who have barely put a foot wrong this season, Bengaluru FC travel to NorthEast United with a chance to peel away from their closest competition on the table, at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium, in Guwahati, on Wednesday.
Carles Cuadrat’s Blues, who have enjoyed the best start to a season (22 points from eight games) by any club in the League’s history are up against a team who are enjoying their personal best start to a season. Eelco Schattorie’s side have picked up 18 points from nine games, and are only two points away from their best ever finish in the ISL.
“NorthEast United have been doing really well this season and you can tell that a lot of work has gone in behind the kind of performances they are dishing out. They are playing some very good football and we have travelled to their home while they have the momentum working for them, which makes our job a tough one,” said Cuadrat while addressing the media on the eve of the game.
Spearheading NorthEast’s attack has been French striker Bartholomew Ogbeche, who with eight goals, is leading the scoring charts this season. He will however, be up against the stingiest defence in the League and how that clash unfolds will have a massive bearing on the way the game ends.
Bengaluru would also do well to keep an eye on Uruguayan midfielder Federico Gallego who has had quite the impact for the Highlanders, assisting five and scoring two goals so far this season.
In good news for Bengaluru, Spanish defender Albert Serran looks to have recovered from his injury that kept him out of the 2-1 win against FC Pune City at home last week. “We travelled with 19 players as a precaution but Albert took part in the session this morning and he seems perfectly fine,” informed Cuadrat.
With Miku out till the end of the year, Cuadrat has been using Chencho Gyeltshen and Semboi Haokip in the number nine role and while the duo are yet to score this season, the Bengaluru manager said he was encouraged by their work rate. “You cannot really replace a player of Miku’s quality but we have good options for that role in Sunil, Chencho and Semboi and they have all been working hard. It’s about taking your chances and I am sure they know it too.”
Bengaluru will be buoyed with the form Udanta Singh seems to have struck after what many described as a slow start to the season. The winger set up Sunil Chhetri for the winner in Goa, scored one of his own at home against Delhi and had a brilliant finish for Bengaluru’s opener against Pune last week.
The game kicks off at 7.30 pm and will be telecast across the STAR Sports network, HotStar and JioTV.