West Block supporters came to me & said we have to win this game: Albert Roca

Bengaluru FC face JDT for AFC CUP semis

Following a loss & two wins away from home, Bengaluru FC will be keen to prove they are among the best in the business when they return to the ‘Fortress’ for their clash against Chennaiyin FC

Sunil Chhetri of Bengaluru FC warm up before the start of the match 23 of the Hero Indian Super League between FC Pune City and Bengaluru FC held at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex Stadium, Pune, India on the 14th December 2017
Photo by: Vipin Pawar / ISL / SPORTZPICS

The ISL debutants have been at their best on their home turf, rightly nicknamed the Fortress. With convincing victories over Mumbai City FC and Delhi Dynamos in their first two matches at home, Bengaluru FC will look to hand Chennaiyin FC the same treatment and open up a lead at the top of the table.

Bengaluru FC lead the table with 12 points from five matches, “I expect a tough game. They are very competitive and have big central defenders. Also, they are good in set-pieces. For us tomorrow, it will be difficult. They are a side with good balance,” Bengaluru FC coach Albert Roca said during the pre-match media interaction on Saturday.

The importance of the next clash against Chennaiyin FC has been explained in detail to the Spanish coach. It’s a clash against a team that is closely located to them, and the supporters group – West Block Blues – wants the bragging rights to remain with them.

“The West Block supporters came to me and said, ‘Coach, we have to win this game. This is more important because it’s a derby’. I will explain to the players what this match means, just so that it gives us extra motivation,” said Roca.

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Bengaluru will see the return of first-choice goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu on Sunday. The custodian missed the last two matches through suspension. While Gurpreet could start for sure, the coach said he might provide rest to some of his players because they have another game coming up on Thursday.

“We have another big game on Thursday, so we have to manage the situation as best as possible. The players don’t want to sit out, but the job of the coaching staff is to make sure everyone’s being rested well,” he said.

Chennaiyin FC are equally determined to stay put among the top teams and know that victory could take them to the top of the table. After three successive victories, Chennaiyin FC were grounded in Mumbai and are keen to get back to winning ways.

“Once you get to the top, everyone wants to knock you off (the perch). It can be easy to get to the top of the league, but to stay there is the more difficult thing. We’ve come here obviously knowing that we are up against a team which is three points ahead of us. We want to take three points back to Chennai. I am aware this is a local derby. This is by far the closest team to us (geographically). There is a bit of local rivalry here,” said Chennaiyin FC coach John Gregory.

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