The reigning champions have lost their last three games in all competitions…
Both teams will be wary going into a crucial encounter. A win would give both sides a huge boost in confidence, along with much needed three points.
The Shivajians play their fourth home game of the season, at the Balewadi Sports Complex, where they’ve won all their five points so far. DSK go into the game on the back of a late 1-0 defeat to Aizawl FC away from home. The Pune side have had an erratic start to the season, but have fared well against teams like East Bengal and Mohun Bagan at home.
Bengaluru FC themselves have flattered recently, losing three games in a row, to East Bengal and Churchill Brothers in the I-League and Al-Wehdat in a crushing blow in an AFC Champions League qualifier match. The Blues will be eager to get their season back on track on Sunday in what might be a tough assignment away from home.
The visitors have recently let go of foreign striker Roby Norales on loan to second division team Ozone FC. Bengaluru FC will importantly be without the services of centre back John Johnson who will be serving his suspension for the red card in the I-League game against Goan club Churchill Brothers.
DSK, too have no new injury issues to deal with for this big home game. Veteran ‘keeper Subrata Paul, of course, remains out through injury. Shane McFaul, who missed the game against Mohun Bagan two weeks ago, was back on the bench for their game with Aizawl FC, and could find himself back in the starting XI.
The two clubs have played each other twice until now, with the Blues holding the edge, with a win and a draw in the two games. The fixture at the Balewadi Sports Complex last season ended in a stalemate.
Dave Rogers-DSK Shivajians: After a heartbreaking loss against Aizawl FC in their last fixture, Dave Rogers’ main duty is to uplift the boys’ tempo before the humdinger.
“We were disappointed with the result and the way we conceded such a late goal. We have looked back on the game and analysed our mistakes and the players have responded positively in training.”
“We are excited about the game (against Bengaluru FC) as it will be a great test for our young squad. These are the type of games that all footballers look forward to – testing themselves against one of the best teams in India. We know this game is a big challenge, given both sides’ results in the last round, but we are coming into the game with a positive attitude”, Rogers concluded.
Albert Roca-Bengaluru FC: On being asked whether the sudden nosedive of Bengaluru FC’s form could be foreseen as a plight, Albert Roca commented, “We had phases in the games against East Bengal and Churchill Brothers where we switched off and ended up paying the price for it. But against Wehdat, we worked on a few things and I’m proud of the way the boys stuck to the plan. The attitude was good and it was there for all to see and if we carry on like this, we should put behind the minor hiccups we have suffered.”
He further added, “DSK Shivajians are a good team and they showed it in the game against Mohun Bagan. Even in their last game against Aizawl FC, they conceded in the final minute to go down 1-0. We will be stepping on the pitch on Sunday knowing we cannot afford any more slip-ups and I’m confident the team will rise to the occasion.”
DSK Shivajians: Milan Singh: A product of the Tata Football Academy, Milan is now into his second season at DSK Shivajians and has been a consistent figure in the middle of the park for Dave Rogers’ side. Hailing from Manipur, Milan was a revelation in the 2016 edition of the Indian Super League for Delhi Dynamos. While the midfielder is yet to trouble the scorers, the 24-year-old’s box to box performances in multiple systems under Rogers this season have earned him rave reviews.
Bengaluru FC: CK Vineeth: The 28-year-old striker from Kerala has been a revelation for his teams during the past year or so. After playing a crucial role in Benglauru’s I-League and AFC Cup runs, Vineeth also finished as the highest Indian goalscorer at the 2016 Indian Super League, scoring 5 goals in just 6 matches. A fan favourite in Bengaluru, CK Vineeth is the joint highest goal scorer in the I-League this season, socring 5 goals in as many matches. His hat-trick against Mumbai FC being particularly impressive, showcasing the finishing prowess that Vineeth possesses. The striker has struggled in the last couple of matches, missing simple chances against Churchill and Al-Wehdat but will be looking to strike back on Sunday.
DSK Shivajians: (5-3-1-1): Poirei, Chettri, McFaul, Gouramangi, Kolunija, Jerry Lalrinzuala, Mawihmingthanga, Milan Singh, Sanju Pradhan, Quero, Song-Yong
Bengaluru FC: (4-3-3): Amrinder, Khabra, Jhingan, Juanan, Nishu Kumar, Watson, Lyngdoh, Rodrigues, Chhetri, Vineeth, Udanta Singh
The game will not be telecast live on Ten Sports but you can follow live commentary of the game on khelnow.com.