Bengaluru FC should feel confident that they can get the desired result at home and make it to the final, when they clash in the second leg semifinal of the Hero Indian Super League at Sree Kanteerava Stadium, Bengaluru, on Sunday. But, rivals FC Pune City also have reasons to believe they have more than just a decent chance to upset the home side and book their berth in the title round. The teams finished goalless during the first leg clash in Pune and Bengaluru will now need a win to book their place in the final which will be played at their Fortress.
Bengaluru have been dominant at home, winning six of their nine matches. They were unlucky to lose against Chennaiyin FC and Jamshedpur with last-minute goals, but it’s the result against semifinal opponents Pune City that will rankle them. Bengaluru FC shared points with Pune City after a 1-1 result. If Pune can get a similar result in the second leg semi-final, they will sail through to the final on the away goal rule, introduced for the first time in the ISL.
“We have a very tough home game against Pune. They have shown that they are a very tough team with very good strikers and very good defenders. They are a very compact team. But we have a chance to go to the final. So, it is now in our hands and our team has to keep doing the work they have done all season,” said Bengaluru FC head coach Albert Roca.
Had Bengaluru got that crucial away goal, it would have made life a little easy for them at home. Instead, they have to constantly remain alert to Pune’s impending danger from the strikeforce of Marcelinho and Emiliano Alfaro.
After their game at home, Pune City coach Ranko Popovic had made it clear that they are headed to Bengaluru with just one aim: score and win the game. They will qualify even if they score and get a draw.
“We have to be smart and have to play like a team to win. When we play like a team, we are really good and competitive. Then, we can play against anyone,” Popovic had said after the goalless draw at home.
Popovic himself will not be on the technical bench to mastermind Pune’s moves. He remains suspended for his criticism of referee and match officials and will have to watch the game from the stands.
Fortunately for Pune City, who qualified for the semi-final for the first time, they are not out of place even if their coach is not around. The Serbian has missed several matches all through the season and Pune have still done well to come out trumps. They will now aim to do just that against Bengaluru in one of the most anticipated matches of the season.