CFC, BFC renew rivalries
Chennaiyin FC players during a training session ahead of their opening game

CFC, BFC renew rivalries

Last year’s finalists, Bengaluru FC and Chennaiyin FC, will renew hostilities in their opening match in the Indian Super League at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium here on Sunday.

Bengaluru

BFC and CFC were the two best teams in the league last season, playing some engrossing matches. Whenever the teams played at the Kanteerava, it was Chennaiyin which emerged victorious, including the final. Interestingly, both the teams were known for their set-piece expertise in ISL 4. While Carles Cuadrat helped Roca perfect set-piece routines which brought in eight goals for the ‘Blues’, more than 50 per cent of the goals scored by the ‘Marina Machans’ came from similar situations.
“The rivalry (between Chennaiyin and Bengaluru) is something I experienced for the first time last year. All three games against it were hard-fought. They had an outstanding team last season and it is going to be no different this year. It is going to be a very tough match,” said Chennaiyin FC coach John Gregory. CFC midfielder Dhanpal Ganesh is nursing an injury and has been ruled out for the opening half of the season.
“Obviously, we will miss Ganesh. But we feel other people will have opportunities to get themselves a place in our team. Twelve months ago, Ganesh himself was on the bench but took his chance when he got it. It is time for the others in the squad to take their chances. But he (Ganesh) is a big miss for us in terms of his character and personality. Not to mention the important goals he scored for us,” said Gregory. For Bengaluru FC, this is Carles Cuadrat’s first stint as a head coach and the Spaniard will be looking to get off to the best possible start.
The ‘Blues’ dominated the league stages last season, finishing eight points clear of CFC. Much of that was down to the scorching pace it set at the start of the season, winning four of its first five matches. Cuadrat will be hoping his side gets off to a similar start this time around as well and is not fazed that it will be up against the champion.
“We have to begin the season against someone, and if that someone is CFC, so be it. What’s important is that we go out there each time and put on a good performance. What matters is not who the opposition is, but that we focus on what we can do well,” said Cuadrat, who will be helped by new international signings like midfielder Xisco Hernandez, defender Albert Serran and winger Chencho Gyeltshen.

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