A win or a goalscoring draw will be sufficient for the Stallions to make it to the finals.
Bengaluru FC welcome FC Pune City to the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru on Sunday for the second and deciding leg of the first semi-final of Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2017-18. The first leg between the two sides ended goalless in Pune, meaning Bengaluru need a win to reach the final, while the visitors know that a scoring draw will see them qualify for the grand finale.
Reflecting on the first leg between the sides was Bengaluru head coach Albert Roca. “Our intention was to get a good result (in the first leg). It was not that bad (a result). We just know how important it is to score away, especially with the new rules in place. Tomorrow it will be a difficult game, but it is in our hands to win it. It will almost be like a final. So, we are focused on the second game, without thinking much about the first. We will try to play our game,” he told the media at the pre-match press conference.
While explaining how his side will approach the game, the Spaniard said: “Pune have a very strong team and they have the players who can make a difference. So in Pune, we just wanted to get a clean sheet because we knew it would give us, if not an advantage, at least more options in this leg. I can just hope my team scores goals tomorrow as that is the only way we can make it to the final… they have a very good team, so we need to be consistent, display a good performance in attack and try to take our advantage in all these aspects.”
When asked if the Blues were feeling the pressure, Roca added: ”Look, if I tell you something different, I will not be telling you the truth. It’s obvious that we are under pressure, but we will accept it. It is a very humane and emotional feeling. We do know that we deserve to win, and we have the chance as well to get the title. But we need to face the reality and then just go ahead and try to do our best. It was our aim to reach the semis and we are there. It wasn’t a bad result in the away game and now everything is in our hands. And as I said, my players have to accept that challenge, go onto the pitch and try to do our best.”
Meanwhile, FC Pune City will have to contend with the absence of their head coach Ranko Popovic after the Serbian was suspended. Attending Pune’s pre-match press conference on behalf of Popovic was their assistant coach Vladica Grujic, who explained how they would approach the game. “The first game was a very strong game for both the sides. And I think, tomorrow will be a one-game performance. It is a very very important day for us.”
Commenting on how Popovic’s unavailability may impact Pune, Grujic said: “We as a team know how to win, what are our strong points and our mindset will be like that of a final match. Our players know that they have to give everything on the pitch tomorrow if they want to win.”