Bengaluru, October 24: Indian Super League debutants Bengaluru FC will take on I-League club East Bengal in two friendlies - one on Tuesday (October 25) and the other on Thursday (October 27) to start their preparations for the Indian Super League. The objective of the friendlies is to give some players ample amount of match time before the ISL kicks off on November 18.
BFC crashed out of the AFC Cup after going down 2-3 over two legs in their Inter-Zonal Final against FC Istiklol last week. Coach Albert Roca plans to get the Blues back into the groove with the two friendlies.
"There are a few players in the squad who have not played competitive games in a while," a club official said. "Winger Edu Garcia, defender John Johnson and striker 'Miku' (Nicholas Ladislao Fedor Flores) did not play in the AFC Cup but will be a vital part of our team in the ISL. That apart, the coach has his own plans and hopes to test out a few formations in the upcoming friendlies. The team had lots of time to prepare before every AFC Cup match. But the ISL is a longer league and many players need to get the ball rolling."
The club friendlies will, however, be a closed door affair at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium. Following the two friendlies, the Blues also want to make best use of their time by scheduling more friendlies against other clubs. The team will, however, not travel abroad for training as it already spent 10 days in Spain in August prior to their AFC Cup Inter-Zonal Semi-Final against 4.25 SC.
Goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu will feature in the BFC reserve side. Gurpreet was signed in the summer transfer window from Norwegian club FC Stabaek and was not directly picked from the ISL draft. Consequently, he will have to wait out five rounds of the ISL, after which he can be named as an additional player in the team. Otherwise, Gurpreet can also be roped in before as an injury replacement. Gurpreet can still play in friendlies for the main squad.
East Bengal, on the other hand, began their season strongly by clinching the Calcutta Football League title. The team has made strong pre-season signings, which includes roping in Khalid Jamil, the I-League winning Aizawl FC coach. The team also signed Japanese Katsumi Yusa from rivals Mohun Bagan as well as Brazilian striker Charles D'Souza from Chennai City FC. Jamil also brought in Syrian midfielder Mohammad Al Amna, who played under the Indian in Aizawl last season.