Recently-crowned Super Cup champions, Bengaluru, travel to the Maldivian capital of Male to entertain a New Radiant Sporting Club (NRSC) side who have somewhat of a score to settle after the game in Bangalore.
New Radiant Have A Score To Settle
For long periods of the game in India, New Radiant were the better side and had a lot more of the ball, however, the game switched once Albert Roca introduced Bengaluru’s talisman, Sunil Chhetri.
Bengaluru’s top goalscorer breached New Radiant’s offside trap when the game looked set to end in a stalemate, squared the ball to Nishu and the rest, as they say, is history.
Going into the previous game, both sides had started their respective AFC campaigns faultlessly so something had to give. With this game, Bengaluru have the opportunity to pull away from NRSC, although, it is thought that will be easier said than done.
For starters, a lot of it will depend on what sort of side Roca chooses to field as he had been experimenting somewhat in the AFC Cup thus far, though that has been more down to the fixture congestion than anything else.
Could We See A Stronger Bengaluru Side?
So, with the domestic football now finished for a few months in India, could we see Chhetri from the off? If Chhetri starts, Bengaluru will win. If he doesn’t, then I can see NRSC edging it which would leave them level pegging on nine points apiece.
If you’ve got a pen handy and you’re like me and like to take notes while you’re reading things online, it’s worth noting that NRSC lost for the first time in the league last Friday which could be viewed in one of two ways.
Either they’re taking the AFC Cup very seriously and rested their first XI five days before the game, or they’re panicking like mad because they know it’s their big chance to progress to the knockout stages.
Interestingly, this will be Bengaluru’s second trip to the Maldives this season as they played TC Sports Club in the qualifiers. In that instance, they overpowered the Maldivian side, just. A brace from Haokip and an effort from Erik Paartalu meant they came away 3-2 winners in the Maldives before wiping the floor with them in India, 5-0.
NRSC Have Two Players That Stand Out
You get the feeling things will be different on this trip and Bengaluru’s focus has to be on Ali Ashfaq and Guillem Marti Misut who both feature in the Maldivian top goalscorer chart; the bookies have got NRSC as the favourites which is a bit strange. Before making any decisions about who to back though, wait for the team news. For what it’s worth, Bengaluru are nearly 2/1. Tasty.
It won’t be Albert Roca making the decisions on the touchline this time as he serves a one-game suspension so that duty is left with goalkeeping coach, Eduardo Gasol and he said this regarding team selection prior to the game:
“Everyone is up for selection and like always, the coach along with the staff will sit and decide what the best XI would be for the game against New Radiant.”
Keeping his cards close to his chest. My gut is telling me Chhetri will start and Bengaluru will come away with the three points they need which will effectively seal their place in the knockout stages of the competition. Only time will tell though, I guess.
If I was a betting man and luckily I am, I’d be backing Bengaluru @ 15/8. I think that while NRSC may be up for it, Bengaluru’s class should shine through. We’ll see.
Until the next time.