The two teams last faced each other in the ISL in January.

In a 130th Durand Cup Group C all ISL clash at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan (VYBK) in Kolkata on Wednesday, September 15, 2021, former ISL Champions Bengaluru FC, open their engagements against the Kerala Blasters, who currently lead the group. Bengaluru FC will be looking to do better than their previous performance at the prestigious tournament, when they could not make it past the group stages in 2019.

The Naushad Moosa coached side has travelled with a rather young team for the 130th Durand Cup edition, which will feature 2020-21 I-League golden boot winner Bidyashagar Singh and the 20-year old Sivasakthi, who had impressed one and all in the Bangalore Super Division last year. He also made his Bengaluru FC senior team debut in the AFC Cup. 

Speaking about their revamped squad Coach of Bengaluru FC, Naushad Moosa said, “We had a long pre-season due to the AFC Cup but what we have done is we have got a squad which wasn’t a part of the team for long. You can say these are the guys who didn’t get enough games. So, you will find mostly we have the U18 graduates who are in the reserve squad now and a few of the reserve team players who Marco has got them in the senior team who he feels are a good potential for the future. 

He further added, “Players like Sivasakthi, Damaitphang, Namgyal Bhutia, Biswa Darjee are there whom we want to give opportunities. It’s such a big game and a big tournament for them. We want to understand how well they can perform under pressure in a big competition.”

On the other hand, Kerala Blasters FC have started their campaign with a 1-0 win over Indian Navy and are looking in good shape heading into the match against Bengaluru. 

Speaking before the match, Kerala Blasters FC, Coach, Ivan Vukomanovic said, “We are pleased with the victory in our first game, it gave us a good start at the tournament. We are in the period of preseason preparation for the ISL, it is obvious that we are not at the level we want to be. There is still a long path and hard work in front of us. We are still waiting for our reinforcements to arrive and complete our squad before going to Goa for the final part. There were good and less good things during our first game. We are working hard to improve and be better in every aspect. We are happy with the current work and shape of our players. It gives us good basics for the upcoming period. On the other side, we are not happy with injuries. It was not planned and we will try to avoid injuries in this part of the preparation period.”         

He also commented on the team compositions and said, “We don’t look at our next opponent and compare them with the last season performances. It is obvious that neither Bengaluru FC nor we will look in next ISL like we are now at this tournament. We both use this tournament as a part of our preparation trying to give playing time to all our players. I hope we will have our next games without injuries.”

The top two teams from each group will qualify for the quarter-finals that are scheduled to kick off from September 23, 2021.

For more updates, follow Khel Now on TwitterInstagram and join our community on Telegram.