Simon Grayson’s Bengaluru FC travel over to the East Coast to renew their rivalry with Chennaiyin FC in the Indian Super League (ISL) on October 14. They come into this game after a narrow 1-0 win against NorthEast United on the back of a strong defensive performance from an almost newly-assembled backline.
But as the cliche goes, the form book goes out the window ahead of games like the one that the Blues will play at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai on Friday.
For coach Grayson, however, the fixture is one that the team should go out and ‘enjoy’. In a press conference ahead of their quick trip across state borders, the Englishman had the following to say:
“I think you’ve got to enjoy it. I used to enjoy playing in front of a lot of fans, it gets your adrenaline going and lifts your concentration levels as well. It’s our job, no matter when or where, to make sure we contain the home crowd.”
This, of course, is the Bengaluru-based side’s first away game of the season. And you’d expect that to make a difference to the way the manager approaches things. But Grayson sees no reason to change the way they work. He said:
“The atmosphere on Saturday was unbelievable, and that’s what we’ll have to deal with on Friday in Chennai. We’re going there with the same intent that we had at home, to win the game. We want to be positive, and keep building on what we’ve been doing.”
Grayson went on to add that their preparation ‘isn’t a great deal different’ from when the side play at home. The Sunil Chettri-led Bengaluru will have one final training session in Bengaluru before flying over to Chennai.
“They’ve got a few really big boys” – Aleksander Jovanovic analyzes Bengaluru FC’s opponents on Friday
Both Bengaluru and Chennaiyin lineups boast their own share of ‘big boys’ as BFC centre-back Aleksander Jovanovic puts it.
Where Jovanovic’s defensive partners Sandesh Jhingan and Alan Costa stand well over six feet tall in addition to himself, Chennaiyin have the likes of forwards Petar Sliskovic and Kwame Karikari in addition to defender Vafa Hakhamaneshi who comfortably breaches the six-feet mark.
Speaking about his opponents on Friday, Jovanovic suggested that the physicality involved and Chennaiyin’s direct style of play, coupled with Bengaluru’s own towering defenders, should make for an interesting game. He said:
“I thought Chennaiyin didn’t really come out to play in the first half, but they came out in the second half and got the result. They’ve got a few really big boys, so do we for that matter. They play very direct, and I’m sure it’ll be an interesting game.”
Adding to what Jovanovic said about the tall players on either side, Bengaluru manager Grayson stressed on the importance of set-pieces, choosing to give due credit to not-so-tall players like Roy Krishna, skipper Sunil Chhetri and Sivasakthi in the process. He had the following to say when asked about set-pieces:
“When you’ve also got good deliveries from Roshan and Javi, who came off the bench, you’ve got to make use of it. You don’t get any extra goals for scoring from open play, so when you get a set-piece you’ve got to utilize it. Set pieces are vital, but we don’t want to be over-reliant on them.
“I thought we had some decent opportunities against NorthEast United as well. Hopefully the variations that we’re working on will work somewhere along the line.”
It’s still early days in ISL 2022-23, and it is too soon to be able to say just how well Bengaluru will do on their first away trip of the new season. But if past seasons are anything to go by, the fans will be excited for what could be an electric encounter, and rightfully so!