The Blues are coming on the back of a Durand Cup triumph.

Newly-crowned Durand Cup champions Bengaluru FC are riding on a wave of confidence and will be further bolstered with their fans returning to the Sree Kanteerava Stadium. NorthEast United will make the long trip south, buoyed by some vital last-minute deadline day transfer activity. Moreover, two new coaches will embark on fresh challenges and will look to get their teams off to a flying start.

The Stakes

Bengaluru FC

After failing to make the top four for two consecutive seasons, Bengaluru FC have their aim firmly set on a return to the top. Simon Grayson has struck the right notes in his successful tenure so far, and the team looks like a well-knit unit.

The onus will be on the senior players to ensure that their confidence remains sky-high. After tasting success early in the domestic season, it is important for the Blues to not get complacent. A statement start to the 2022-23 Indian Super League will set the bar for their competitors.

NorthEast United FC

A revamped NorthEast United will start from scratch under former Israel national team coach Marco Balbul. They won just three games last season and finished tenth. The squad bears a youthful look, with only six players over the age of thirty.

The playoffs will be a distant target for NorthEast, but surely they have the personnel to pack a surprise. A difficult run of fixtures will make things extra challenging for the Highlanders.

Team News

Bengaluru FC have certain niggles in their squad as informed by Simon Grayson, meanwhile NorthEast United might miss Emil Benny since he received an injury in a friendly on 1st October. However, since a week has passed, Benny can be expected to make it to the line-up.

Head-to-Head

Both teams have faced each other 12 times. BFC have dominated the tie with six wins to NorthEast’s two. Four matches ended as draws.

Probable Line-ups

Bengaluru FC: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Prabir Das, Sandesh Jhingan, Alan Costa, Aleksandar Jovanovic, Naorem Roshan Singh, Bruno Ramires, Jayesh Rane, Sunil Chhetri (c), Sivasakthi Narayanan, Roy Krishna

NorthEast United: Arindam Bhattacharya, Joe Zoherliana, Michael Jakobsen, Gaurav Bora, Tondonba Singh, Aaron Evans, Sehnaj Singh, Imran Khan, Romain Phillippoteaux, Jithin MS, Matt Derbyshire

Man to watch

Sivasakthi Narayanan (Bengaluru FC)

Sivasakthi played a crucial role in Bengaluru FC’s Durand Cup triumph. (Courtesy: ISL Media)

The 19-year-old from Karaikudi in Tamil Nadu is a graduate of the BFC academy and has gained recognition after his Durand Cup exploits. The forward netted five times on BFC’s road to glory, terrorizing defences with his off-the-ball movement and deadly finishing.

While the ISL is a step above, Siva possesses the ability to get amongst the goals and morph into a better player by the minute.

Romain Philippoteaux (NorthEast United)

Romain Phillipoteaux is expected to be a statement signing by NorthEast United. (Courtesy: Twitter)

With over a century of Ligue 1 appearances, Romain was a massive deadline-day signing for the Highlanders. He is versatile across the midfield but prefers to play on the wings. The 34-year-old can be NorthEast’s key to unlocking defences and is an outstanding progressor of the ball.

Did You Know?

  • Aleksandar Jovanovic and Matt Derbyshire were teammates at A-League side Macarthur FC
  • Emil Benny won the emerging player award of the I-League in 2021-22
  • Sunil Chhetri is currently the third highest international active goal-scorer after Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

Telecast

The match between Bengaluru FC and NorthEast United will take place at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium, Bengaluru, on October 8. The kick-off time is at 7:30 PM IST. The match will telecast live on the Star Sports Network. Disney+HotStar and JioTV will also stream the match.

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