Bhubaneswar, April 16: Bengaluru FC will start as favourites against Mohun Bagan in the Super Cup semi-final here on Tuesday (April 17) but their coach Alberto Roca termed the Kolkata giants a team that has a "lot of character".
With India captain Sunil Chhetri in prolific form, the Blues are way ahead of the green and maroon brigade on paper. But Sankarlal Chakraborty-coached Mohun Bagan, on their day, can be a handful for any opposition.
Coach Roca wants to guard his men against complacency and is not exactly fond of the "favourites" tag. "We are not the favourites in this match. All the favourites have bowed out so far. So I don't want to be labelled as the favourite," Roca said at the pre-match press conference. "Mohun Bagan are a more difficult team than what we have faced so far in this tournament. They did well in both the matches and are one of the most historical teams in Indian football with a lot of history on their side," he added.
While BFC played in the top-tier ISL, Mohun Bagan continued to play in the I-League, where they finished third behind Minerva Punjab and NEROCA FC.
"A lot has changed in both the teams this season. We will try to be better. But having said that it is not easy. It is a challenge for us to win tomorrow," Roca added.
The Spanish coach also made a special mention of Chhetri. "Sunil is on a mission. The older he is getting, the better he is becoming day by day. That's the way one should be. He is the national team captain and is one of the leaders of the team. He always focusses on what he wants and reflects a lot of passion. I am happy for him, and to have Sunil in my team," he said.
Bengaluru will miss the services of Rahul Bheke for the match due to an injury. "The difference among the teams is too less. If you are able to capitalise on the first or the second chance which you get, the scenario will change then and there. Professionally, we have a job to do on the field," Roca added.
Chakraborty, meanwhile, knows that BFC have the upper hand, having beaten Bagan for the Federation Cup title last May. Two goals by CK Vineeth in extra time gave the Blues their fourth title in four seasons in Cuttack last May. "The quality which Bengaluru FC displayed against us in the Federation Cup final last year was splendid," he recollected. "Coach Roca changed the formation in the match thrice. I will never forget their one-sided dominance all throughout my life," he said, adding: "Do not forget that Mohun Bagan were perhaps the best side last season."
Chakraborty felt his men have to be on guard against BFC during their transitions. "BFC are very dangerous in their transitions," Chakraborty said. "I hear people talking about their trio of Sunil Chhetri, Miku and Udanta Singh upfront. Yes, they are deadly. But at the same time, you need to be wary about the support from behind.
"Modern football has changed. You cannot depend on one single player to win you a match. Nowadays, it's more about a team effort which invariably decides the winning combination," he added.
Bengaluru FC vs Mohun Bagan
Super Cup semi-final
Live from Kalinga Stadium
At 4 pm (Tuesday, April 17)
On Star Sports 2/2 HD/1 Tamil/Suvarna Plus/Jalsha Movies/Asianet Movies and streamed live on Hotstar and Jio TV
Source: AIFF Media