NorthEast United FC are aware of the goalkeeping crisis at Bengaluru FC, but coach Joao de Deus has warned that his side will not be at an advantage in Friday’s Hero Indian Super League (ISL) clash at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati.
Bengaluru FC’s 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 injured, and even though the injured Lalthuammawia Ralte has returned to the side, rookie Calvin Abhishek remains the only fit goalkeeper.
“The advantage would be only if Bengaluru FC play without a goalkeeper. But honestly that won’t happen. They will have a goalkeeper. I don’t care about it because I must look at my team. If it’s Calvin, Ralte, Gurpreet or anyone else, it’s for their coach to decide, not me. I know for sure that TP (Rehenesh) will be our goalkeeper and they will have one goalkeeper,” said the NorthEast United coach.
Bengaluru FC coach Alberto Roca was still undecided on his first-choice goalkeeper for the clash with regular goalkeeper Gurpreet suspended and Abhra injured. Ralte, Roca said, “wasn’t sure,” possibly leaving him with no choice but 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 that whoever plays will do his job well,” said Roca.
The visitors, however, will have their talismanic striker and captain, Sunil Chhetri, available. The India captain has joined the team after tying the knot with his long-time girlfriend.
“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,” said the coach.
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 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 Joao de Deus.