Bengaluru FC stands on the brink of a momentous I-League title in its debut season. For the best part of its journey, the club has stood at the top of the league table and all it needs now is one win from its final two games to remain there at the end.
Bengaluru’s coronation as champion could thus come as soon as Monday, when it faces Dempo SC at the Fatorda Stadium here.
Ashley Westwood, Bengaluru’s English head coach, will be aware of the pitfalls of leaving it to the last game — at Sporting Goa in a week’s time — and inviting unnecessary pressure. His men showed in the hard-fought win at Mohun Bagan that the loss to Shillong Lajong and the draw with Pune were temporary blips.
A fortnight has since passed, and second-placed East Bengal (40) remains one point behind, having a single game left. Salgaocar (38), in third, also has a match left and is mathematically out of it for the moment, but the decision of its appeal against a docked point is awaited.Good form
Dempo’s form in the I-League has been good since the turn of the year, with five wins, a defeat and a draw. Arthur Papas’s lot will be hoping to move up from sixth, with third place a possibility should other results go their way.
The Australian attacker Tolgay Ozbey has been in fine touch, but he is suspended for this game.
Bengaluru has struck more goals than anyone else in the league, with the captain Sunil Chhetri (13) second on the list of top-scorers behind Shillong’s Glenn Cornell (14). Chhetri’s partnership with Sean Rooney and Robin Singh will worry Dempo, whose defence came apart in the early stages of the reverse fixture.
Westwood does not drink, but he just might have a giant Goan party to attend on Monday night.