Bengaluru: After a stalemate against Transport United in the AFC Cup preliminary round, Bengaluru FC will look to bounce back to winning ways when they take on a resurgent NorthEast United at the Sree Shiv Kanteerava Stadium here on Friday.
Early pace setters in the Indian Super League (ISL) with three consecutive wins, Bengaluru now finds themselves third in the table on 21 points from 11 games, two behind leaders Chennaiyin who have played a game more.
Things howver are more crucial behind, with FC Goa breathing on their neck on 19 points from 10 games and Roca, experienced on Indian conditions know the difficulty of keeping up the pace with games coming thick and fast. Perhaps that is the reason he said, “Looking at how tight the top of the table is, I would say 21 more points from the remaining seven games.”
But defeating the ‘Highlanders’ won’t be an easy task. A change in coach with Avram Grant taking charge has fetched NorthEast two wins in three games — and that those two came against top teams like Goa and Chennaiyin — stand as an example to the revival at work in their camp.
“NorthEast have been growing in confidence as the tournament has progressed and I haven’t been surprised at all,” said the Spanish tactician to the media on Friday.
It was a hard-fought battle when the both squared off earlier in the season, but ‘The Blues’ had edged out 1-0 that evening and come Friday although Roca spoke of “approaching the game with caution,” philosophy won’t be comprised he assured.
Grant though remained assured in the ability of his boys. Unlike Roca, the Israeli has not had privilege of watching Chennaiyin live but that he “has seen them on television,” would do. “They are a good team and I like the way they play,” he said. “But as we have shown in our last match that we have the ability to win games.”
NorthEast United stands nine points far from the top four, on 10 points from the same no of games and while a “a place in the top four” was always their prime objective, now with chances looking slim “we just need to focus on the next game.”