GOA: Salgaocar Football Club host Bengaluru FC in the second of the two fixtures that kick start the 2015-16 season of Hero I-League, on Saturday.
The two sides have gone head to head five times prior to the upcoming game and Bengaluru FC have been victors on all five occasions, clearly demarcating their domination in India’s traditional football league so far.
The JSW owned club turned out to be 0-1 winners the last time they faced the Goan outfit at the Fatorda Stadium, courtesy a late Robin Singh goal. In the crucial away leg, the Blues ran rampant over Salgaocar with a 3-1 win and goals coming from Thoi Singh, Curtis Osano and Eugeneson Lyngdoh, despite Darryl Duffy pulling one back for the visitors.
However, the variables are different this time on with Salgaocar FC snapping up some big names in the transfer market. The Goan outfit has signed forward Calvin Mbarga and midfielder Martin Scott, while retaining the services of Scottsh striker, Darryl Duffy. They have retained a strong base of players in Keenan Almeida and Reagan Singh joined the Greens from Sporting Clube de Goa and Royal Wahingdoh FC respectively. Winger Gabriel Fernandes and striker Manandeep Singh are in quite in a good shape.
The quintessential signings for Salgaocar FC though, is Hero I-League player of the year 2014/15, Jackichand Singh and his partner in crime at Royal Wahingdoh last season, Seityasen. The duo understand each other’s playing styles and will impose serious threat to Bengaluru’s wing-backs.
Salgaocar FC has infused plenty of pace into their ranks with their ardent shopping spree. The club’s Head Coach Malky Thomson has been vocal about his plans of being versatile with his formations and explained his stance on how the Goan team will look to go about the season “First of all we are looking to instill a fighting spirit at the club. We will be happy with a good performance tomorrow and even happier if the performance gets us a win” Malky Thomson said.
The Greens will play to the strengths of their wide men who will look to bombard Bengaluru FC’s penalty box with plenty of areal service to their forwards. A revamped and re-energized Salgaocar FC will look to change their losing trend against the 2013/14 champions.
Bengaluru FC however, will turn up to their first fixture with a spring in their step. The Blues have been in great form in the Bangalore District Football Association (BDFA) tournament but have had very less time together as a full squad due to their key players being away with the national side.
The Ashley Westwood coached outfit has also been active in player departure and arrivals, with plenty of new additions to their squad. Former Pune FC goalkeeper, Amrinder Singh has signed on loan, where as midfielder Alwyn George and forwards Kim-Seong-Young and Seminlen Doungel are the major names that will ply their trade for Bengaluru this season.
Darren Caldeira, Sean Rooney, Gurtej Singh and Pawan Kumar all made their way out of the club after struggling for opportunities last season. Udanta Singh and Shankar Sampingiraj are back with the squad after their loan spells and will be set for a lot more game time this season.
Ashley Westwood pointed out that his side has been waiting for Saturday’s fixture for a considerable amount of time,”We’re really looking forward to the game. It seems like we’ve been waiting for this forever given we played our last competitive game on May 31st. The lads have prepared well and are hungry to be successful,” Westwood said.
Bengaluru FC will look to forget last season’s horrors as they missed out on being crowned I-League champions for the second consecutive year by a whisker. Salgaocar FC on the other hand will be looking to begin the season on a positive note. What transpires between the two sides will be interesting to say the least.
Match Kick-off: 07:05 PM at Tilak Maidan
– I-League Media