Bengaluru FC will hope for the familiar environs of the Sree Kanteerava Stadium to inject some much-needed spark into its 2023-24 Indian Super League season when it takes on Punjab FC here on Thursday.
Simon Grayson’s men lie eighth in the table on six points from seven games but the encounter against Punjab will only be BFC’s third at home in this campaign. A positive result can set the side on course for a productive festive period until the end of the year, during which it will play three of its four ties in the Garden City.
“Playing away from home for five of seven games to start the season is not easy,” Grayson said on match-eve. “We had a similar schedule last year where we played a majority of our opening games away from home, and then we went on a good run at home and started winning football matches. We’re really excited to be back here and I’m certain the supporters will be in full voice.”
BFC will miss the services of Aussie winger Ryan Williams, who was injured in the previous fixture against NorthEast United FC. But it will help that Punjab is currently at rock bottom and without a single victory. In their most recent match against Hyderabad FC, Staikos Vergetis’ wards conceded a 98th-minute equaliser which meant they would only have three points.
“For us, there are difficulties,” Vergetis admitted. “[But] we try to be competitive. Apart from one game (against Chennaiyin FC), all the other games we have lost by a goal. Until now, we have not succeeded. This has hurt us but has also made us work more. The success will come.”
The team’s fortunes will rest on the creator Juan Mera (one goal and one assist) and attacker Luka Majcen (two goals). If the duo can inspire the ISL debutant to come up with a rousing performance, it will be a night to remember.