Not since HASC’s relegation two seasons ago has the city seen I-League action, or such a fervid build-up to a football match. Bengaluru FC will play its first official game here on Sunday, against Mohun Bagan.
The home side has bought wisely: from India strikers Sunil Chhetri and Robin Singh to centre-halves John Johnson and Curtis Osano, both of whom come from League Two sides in England.
The coach Ashley Westwood, himself a former Manchester United player, bristled at the suggestion that his team had not had much match practice whereas the opponent had appeared in the Calcutta League.
There was a friendly last month against the Indian national side, he indignantly pointed out, which his men won. Mohun Bagan, after escaping relegation last season following its 12-point penalty — a feat the manager Karim Bencherifa likened to winning two trophies — looks a much-changed squad, with as many as 10 new players on its books.
Critically, though, Odafa Okolie is out with injury, heaping much of the goal-scoring burden on the new signing Eric Muranda.
Bagan will seek a fresh beginning, Bengaluru FC a good one.