Durand Cup: Bengaluru FC face litmus test against Kerala Blasters
KOLKATA: In the 130th Durand Cup Group C all-ISL clash at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan (VYBK) in Kolkata on Wednesday, former ISL champions Bengaluru FC open their engagements against the Kerala Blasters, who currently lead the group.
Bengaluru FC will be looking to do better than their previous performance at the prestigious tournament, when they could not make it past the group stages in 2019.
The Naushad Moosa coached side has travelled with a rather young team for the 130th Durand Cup edition, which will feature 2020-21 I-League golden boot winner Bidyashagar Singh and the 20-year old Sivasakthi, who had impressed one and all in the Bangalore Super Division last year. He also made his Bengaluru FC senior team debut in the AFC Cup.
Speaking about their revamped squad coach Moosa said, “We had a long pre-season due to the AFC Cup but what we have done is we have got a squad which wasn’t a part of the team for long. You can say these are the guys who didn’t get enough games. So, you will find mostly we have the U18 graduates who are in the reserve squad now and a few of the reserve team players who Marco has got them in the senior team who he feels are a good potential for the future.”
On the other hand, Kerala Blasters FC have started their campaign with a 1-0 win over Indian Navy and are looking in good shape heading into the match against Bengaluru.
Speaking before the match, Kerala Blasters FC coach Ivan Vukomanovic said, “We are pleased with the victory in our first game, it gave us a good start at the tournament. We are in the period of preseason preparation for the ISL, it is obvious that we are not at the level we want to be.
“There is still a long path and hard work in front of us. We are still waiting for our reinforcements to arrive and complete our squad before going to Goa for the final part. There were good and less good things during our first game. We are working hard to improve and be better in every aspect. We are happy with the current work and shape of our players. It gives us good basics for the upcoming period. On the other side, we are not happy with injuries. It was not planned and we will try to avoid injuries in this part of the preparation period.”
The top two teams from each group will qualify for the quarter-finals that are scheduled to kick off from September 23.
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