Bangalore, Feb 22: Leaders Bengaluru FC take on Mumbai FC at the Bangalore Football Stadium here Sunday hoping to consolidate their position at the top of the I-League standings.
With just nine games to go, Bengaluru cannot afford a slip-up in their quest for what would be a stunning debut season as just two points separate second-placed Sporting Clube de Goa from the Blues.
Apart from beginning the run on the home stretch on a winning note, Bengaluru would be keen to settle scores after a heated away leg saw Ashley Westwood’s boys concede from the last kick of the game that ended 2-2 in Pune. The game was replete with skirmishes on-and-off the pitch which only adds more bite to Sunday’s fixture.
While Mumbai FC may be languishing in 10th place in the table, they will take encouragement from the fact that they have been on a nine-game unbeaten streak. Also, Khalid Jamil knows that a win against Bengaluru will send his team to sixth and the fact will prompt Mumbai to play for more than just the draw.
“Any side at the bottom will always be a dangerous proposition. We never take anything for granted. This game will be as tough as it gets,” Westwood said.
Bengaluru had an indifferent Federation Cup where they made an exit after leading the group over two rounds. But Westwood is experienced enough to get his boys dust off the disappointment in Kerala. Asked if playing six of the remaining nine games away from home could be a hurdle for the Blues, Westwood begged to differ.
“You do well based on a complete season. It’s the first half and the second half of the league put together that decides a champion,” he said.
A key absentee for the Blues would be skipper Sunil Chhetri who misses the game with a suspension and Robin Singh, in all likelihood, should start ahead with Sean Rooney and Beikhokhei Beingaichho.
Mumbai FC, on the other hand, have a doubtful starter in skipper Climax Lawrence who is suffering from an eye infection and Jamil would take a call on his availability only on match-day.