Bengaluru, January 6: The Fortress will start the New Year with a big-ticket fixture when Bengaluru FC take on Kolkata's ATK and Albert Roca said the focus would be on dishing out a quality show on every yard of the pitch.
The Blues have the chance to go top of the table should Chennaiyin, who take on Delhi Dynamos in the day's early fixture, stutter. But the Spaniard isn't using the prospect as motivation.
The Blues are up against defending champions @WorldATK at the Fortress in an 8pm kick-off tomorrow, and the Boss shares the importance of a positive result. #BENKOL #WeAreBFC pic.twitter.com/DB1sihFPtt— Bengaluru FC (@bengalurufc) January 6, 2018
"It's always been about a good performance for me. Yes, to win on Sunday will be the ultimate goal, but I would like us to do it with a good performance. ATK are on a three-game unbeaten run and it's always tough when you're up against a side who are gathering momentum," said Roca while addressing the pre-match presser on Saturday.
Teddy Sheringham-coached ATK, who sit seventh on the table with 9 points from seven games, have been buoyed by the form of striker Robbie Keane who has been on target in the win over Delhi Dynamos and the 1-1 draw against FC Goa.
Asked whether Bengaluru would have a plan in place for the former Republic of Ireland skipper, Roca said his side would do well to be wary of Keane. "He's been around some very big clubs and has achieved success and he is somebody we will have to be careful about. He has scored in their last two games and will look to add to his tally."
Bengaluru have their own talisman in Miku who, with eight goals, sits second on the list of top goal scorers in the ISL. The Venezuelan had failed to find the back of the net in the defeats to Chennaiyin and Jamshedpur but sprang back to life with a fantastic brace that consigned Kerala Blasters to a 3-1 defeat at home.
Sunday will see a lot of familiar faces in ATK shirts in Robin Singh, Keegan Pereira, Shankar Sampingiraj and Darren Caldeira - all of who have worn the BFC blue in the past. However, a favourite in the stands during his time with Bengaluru, Eugeneson Lyngdoh will miss the fixture as he continues to recuperate from a knee injury suffered early in the season. The game will also mark the return of former BFC manager Ashley Westwood to his old stomping ground, but this time in the avatar of Technical Director for the Kolkata club.
Asked if Westwood's time at Bengaluru would give ATK an advantage, Roca felt differently. "A lot has changed since Ashley left BFC. We have brought in a lot of new payers since then. Also, he won't be on the touchline and that changes things a little."
In team news, Udanta Singh has completely recovered from an ankle injury that saw him come off in Kochi last weekend.
The game will probably be overshadowed by reports that Keane has courted interest from his former club Wolverhampton Wanderers - where he shot to stardom. Wolves are eyeing promotion to the Premier League from England's second division - the Championship.
"Keane is the right person to answer this," ATK assistant coach Bastab Roy said, while affirming that the 'entire team' has travelled to Bengaluru.
Roy was particularly cagey in the press conference - hardly giving anything away. But he did say that "the team has some plans (for Bengaluru)" and they had not lost hope of making it to the last four.
"This league is very unpredictable and it is too early to say that we have lost hope. It will be decided in the last one or two games," he said.
(Source: BFC/ISL Media)
Match starts at 8pm and is live on Star Sports 2/HD2 and Hotstar