Date: 21 February, 2021
Time: 5:00 PM IST
Venue: Fatorda Stadium
Live Commentary: SportsTiger App
Bengaluru return to action in the Indian Football League on Sunday, when they lock horns with Goa at the Fatorda Stadium. Naushad Moosa’s men are beaming in confidence after their emphatic 4-2 triumph over Mumbai in the last outing.
With that win the Blues managed to barely stay alive in the race for playoffs. However, they now face a stern challenge against another team chasing the playoffs in Goa. Both sides cannot afford to lose if they are to maintain their quest of staying alive in the competition.
Ashique Kuruniyan made his first appearance for the club after returning from injury in the last outing. The Kerala-born winger could feature in the starting line-up against Goa.
Sunil Chhetri and Cleiton Silva will continue to lead the attack owing to their sparkling form. Harmanjot Khabra is just a solitary booking away from receiving an automatic suspension for accumulation of yellow cards, but that shouldn’t prevent Bengaluru from deploying him for such a crucial game.
Edu Bedia has escaped punishment for allegedly biting Deepak Tangri of Chennai in the last outing. As such, the Goa captain is expected to come back straight into the side.
However, while accommodating Edu Bedia, Goa is expected to drop James Donachie to the bench to stay true to the foreigner rule. Further, Adil Khan missed the last game due to injury and it remains to be seen if he becomes available for selection.
Bengaluru are five points adrift off the final playoff berth with just two games remaining in the league phase. Naushad Moosa and company must win both their remaining games and hope for results to go in their favour if they are to secure an unlikely qualification. Should they do it, the turnaround will be nothing short of remarkable.
The Blues’ outstanding 4-2 triumph over Mumbai proved to be the perfect testimony of their credentials. Without the shadow of a doubt, they are still a unit capable of beating any side. Both their remaining games are against teams chasing the playoffs, so three points will not only help them but throw their competitors under the bus as well.
Goa are also coming into this game after a comprehensive win. The Gaurs put an end to their run of six straight draws after beating Odisha 3-1. Juan Ferrando is still very hopeful of qualifying for the playoffs, but face two tough games next. After the meeting with Bengaluru on Sunday, Goa are slated to play Hyderabad in their last league game.
As things stand, all of Hyderabad, Goa and NorthEast are level on points in the race for playoffs. Goa sit in the final playoff berth thanks to their superior goal difference over NorthEast. The margin for error is very minimal for Goa now considering any slip-up will allow either Hyderabad or NorthEast to run away with qualification.
Probable Playing XI
Gurpreet Singh Sandhu (GK); Parag Shrivas, Harmanjot Khabra, Fran Gonzalez, Ashique Kuruniyan, Erik Paartalu, Udanta Singh, Suresh Wangjam, Xisco Hernandez, Cleiton Silva, Sunil Chhetri
Dheeraj Singh (GK); Seriton Fernandes, Aiban Dohling/Adil Khan, Ivan Gonzalez, Saviour Gama, Edu Bedia, Glan Martins, Romario Jesuraj, Alberto Noguera, Jorge Ortiz, Igor Angulo
Goalkeepers: Gurpreet, Dheeraj
Defenders: Ivan Gonzalez, Khabra, Ashique, Saviour Gama
Midfielders: Udanta, Xisco, Noguera, Romario
Forwards: Chhetri, Cleiton, Angulo, Ortiz
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