A win for either team will keep their slim chances of finishing in the top-four alive.

Bengaluru FC have endured a top-turvy campaign in this Indian Super League season. Though they had a poor start, the Blues slowly gathered themselves and delivered what is expected of them. Marco Pezzaiuoli’s side suffered a shocking defeat in their previous encounter against NorthEast United. Coming at the back of two consecutive losses, the Blues won’t want to take any more damage to their playoff hopes. Thus, a win will be all they’ll be looking forward to.

Meanwhile, Odisha FC have witnessed an inconsistent season so far. Kino Sanchez’s side ended their previous fixture in a 2-2 draw against Chennaiyin FC. With just three matches left to play and slim hopes of qualification, they’ll be going all guns blazing into this fixture.

Ahead of the match, coaches Marco Pezzaiuoli and Kino Sanchez addressed the media and shared their thoughts.

Bengaluru FC coach Marco Pezzaiuoli

Future dependent on other results regardless of wins

Marco Pezzaiuoli: We look at it in the same way as NorthEast United. We need to focus only on this game. There are still three points to get from this game. We need to improve, that’s for sure. We need to do this for 90 minutes to control the game. We need to decide when we cross, when we go with high intensity and when we increase our speed without the ball. Odisha are a very good team in counters and pressing. When you give them space to counter, they can score goals – as we saw in our first game.

Ongoing Inconsistency

Marco Pezzaiuoli: It’s not a worry. I know my team can do it. We’ve done it all season. Of course, we are at the end of the season now, but we’ve had two days of rest and we need to see which players are available. But, we have enough players to bring inside, who can give us some fresh energy in the game. We need to focus on ourselves and our quality without as well as with the ball. We have Roshan (Singh) back and we have a few players out after the last game. Suresh (Wangjam) will not join us due to injury and he might not play again this season either.

Reason for Gurpreet Singh Sandhu’s absence

Marco Pezzaiuoli: Gurpreet (Singh Sandhu) was sick and had a very high fever for 5-6 days. It’s not COVID, but he will not join us tomorrow and I am not sure if he will join us again this season. But, Lara (Sharma) had a very good game and that’s why Stefan (Toonen) and I selected him as Gurpreet’s substitute. Even Sharon (Padattil) is a very talented young goalkeeper. We believe and that’s why we took them to the first-team. So, when they get chances they need to be there and that’s how they need to handle this.

Team News

Marco Pezzaiuoli: Ashique (Kuruniyan) will still not be available for tomorrow’s game. Akashdeep (Singh), Jayesh (Rane), Suresh (Wangjam) and Rohit (Kumar) are out for the season. Gurpreet (Singh Sandhu) is out for this as well as the next game. This is already a long list and along with this, we have 2-3 players who are suffering after their COVID situations.

Leon (Augustine) who was injured at the start of the season is still recovering and maybe he might be ready for the game after this one. Ajith (Kumar) is still weak – he’s getting some power, but he’s still not ready to play games after his COVID situation. You see it’s not an easy situation, but we still have enough players and I’m confident with those that we have.

Odisha FC coach Kino Sanchez

Spot for the payoffs looks difficult but not impossible. How are you motivating your players?

Kino Sanchez: We know it’s difficult but everybody wants to compete till the end. Against Bengaluru both the teams want to win with a little hope. We are learning from our mistakes but we are ready for Bengaluru FC.

Thoughts on Bengaluru FC?

Kino Sanchez: I think they would be thinking exactly same as us. They must not be thinking about what they couldn’t. We both the teams want to have a good match, secure the points and comeback.

What were some vital points in the draw against Chennayin FC?

Kino Sanchez: We started losing from the first minute after the free-kick. We came back in the second half, scored the goal. We also had the chance to score another but they were better than us in the last minutes. We have learnt and we are improving.

Three games left now, what are your thoughts for the path to playoffs?

Kino Sanchez: We will try to beat Bengaluru, then we will see. We will focus 100%. We are not thinking about other fixtures. At this point, we are ready to face them.

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