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ISL: Bolstered by return of Sunil Chhetri, Bengaluru FC seek win vs NorthEast United

While skipper Sunil Chhetri returns to action, Bengaluru FC are facing a goalkeeping crisis as Gurpreet Singh Sandhu has been suspended for two matches after picking up a red card against FC Goa in their previous Indian Super League (ISL) match

indian super league 2017 Updated: Dec 07, 2017 23:52 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India, Guwahati
ISL 2017,Indian Super League,ISL
Bengaluru FC captain Sunil Chhetri shares a light moment with teammates during a practice session for their Indian Super League (ISL) match against NorthEast United FC at the Indira Gandhi National Athletic Stadium in Guwahati on Thursday. (PTI)

Indian football team captain Sunil Chhetri is not skipping any Indian Super League (ISL) matches despite his recent wedding and is set to take the field when Bengaluru FC face a confident NorthEast United FC in Guwahati on Friday.

Bengaluru FC will have its talismanic striker and captain Chhetri available for the match match as the visitors seek to bounce back from the defeat in the previous match.

After opening their campaign with two consecutive wins, Bengaluru suffered a 3-4 loss to FC Goa in their first away match and would want to notch up a win against NorthEast United.

Bengaluru, however, are facing a goalkeeping crisis as Gurpreet Singh Sandhu has been suspended for two matches after the Indian national team custodian picked up a red card against FC Goa in the previous match.

Abhra Mondal is not fit, and even though the injured Lalthuammawia Ralte has returned to the side, rookie Calvin Abhishek remains the only match-fit goalkeeper.

NorthEast United FC head coach Joao de Deus insisted that his opposition team’s goalkeeping crisis would not give his side any advantage in tomorrow’s clash.

“The advantage would be only if Bengaluru FC play without a goalkeeper. But honestly that won’t happen. They will have a goalkeeper,” de Deus said at the pre-match press conference.

“I don’t care about it if it’s Calvin, Ralte, Gurpreet or anyone else, it’s for their coach to decide, not me. I must look at my team. I know for sure that T P (Rehenesh) will be our goalkeeper and they will have one goalkeeper,” said the NorthEast United coach.

Bengaluru FC coach Alberto Roca is still undecided on his first-choice goalkeeper for the clash with regular keeper Gurpreet suspended and Abhra, Ralte injured, it possibly leaves him with no choice but to field Calvin.

“I have some problems at the back with regard to goalkeepers but these are circumstances that I cannot change. I am confident in my goalkeepers and whoever plays will do his job well,” said Roca.

Talking about Chhetri’s availability tomorrow, Roca said, “He is married and available for tomorrow. He joined the team here and he is ready. I think he is the most professional player I’ve had in my career.”

The match presents an opportunity for NorthEast United to capitalise on BFC’s weakness in front of goal and their low morale after the defeat in Goa.

NorthEast United themselves secured an important win against Delhi Dynamos in the previous match and are now confident they can add to their winning tally.

“We are better today than 15 days ago when we played Jamshedpur. For 15 days, we worked hard to create our own identity. We are better. I am sure that Bengaluru FC are also better than their first game,” said de Deus.

NorthEast United are placed sixth on the table with four points from three matches while Bengaluru FC are on top with six points after three matches.

First Published: Dec 07, 2017 20:56 IST