Pune, April 5 (IANS) DSK Shivajians FC will be looking to make the most of their home advantage when they face strong title contenders Bengaluru FC in a crucial I-League encounter at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex here on Wednesday.
Currently on a five-match unbeaten run, DSK Shivajians have been at their best at home in recent games. Back-to-back wins over East Bengal and Sporting Clube de Goa, followed by a draw against Shillong Lajong FC has helped them pick up seven points in the last three games at home.
DSK have also improved in the attacking third, scoring a total of 10 goals in their last six games, eight of which came at home — a fact they will look back on ahead of Wednesday’s game.
Going into the game, both sides — seventh-placed DSK (13 points) and second-placed Bengaluru (25 pts) — are targeting the maximum three points with the aim of improving their respective positions in the standings.
Moreover, with just four rounds to go, each game is vital as six teams are separated by just two points from fourth to ninth place in the table, thus making the three points on offer crucial.
DSK head coach Derrick Pereira exuded confidence while speaking at the pre-match press conference on Tuesday.
“We have another exciting home match now. We will be looking to do well again, especially since it is our second-last home match of the season. We do not have to worry about injuries and cards, which is a positive. Also, we will be going into the match with the same squad that we had for the last couple of games,” he said.
Pereira will have a full squad at his disposal with no major injury concerns. This provides a much needed boost for DSK as another big match against defending champions Mohun Bagan in Kolkata is scheduled at the weekend.
“It is still possible for us to finish in the top five. It is tough, but we need to focus on the four remaining matches. We cannot afford to lose concentration during the match. Since we are in the last few matches of the season, we have to be even more alert and on guard. If the players work hard and perform well, we can surely make it to the top five,” he added.
Opponents Bengaluru FC, who arrived here on Tuesday, come into the game on the back of a narrow win 1-0 over Mumbai FC. The Karnataka-based side will be tricky opponents as they will be looking for a positive result to topple leaders Mohun Bagan (25 points) who have lost back-to-back games.
Interestingly, Bengaluru are the only side in the league to boast a better away record than at home. The former champions have picked up four wins and 13 points in six games while scoring eight times.
“DSK Shivajians are a difficult side to face as they’ve turned a corner. They’ve made a couple of good signings including the new Spanish boy (Juan Quero) who’s come in and made a difference. We’ve done our work and the lads are in good form,” Bengaluru coach Ashley Westwood said.
“We’re hopeful of having a few more bodies back on the pitch for this game and a few more selection problems which is what you want at this stage of the season.”
Back when both sides met in February, it were Bengaluru who triumphed 4-1. Nonetheless, hosts DSK will be hoping to turn the tables this time around before heading to Kolkata for another big game against Mohun Bagan in three days time.