ISL-5: Bengaluru eye revenge against defending champions Chennaiyin (Preview)

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Bengaluru, Sep 29 (IANS) Bengaluru FC will eye revenge for their final loss when they take on reigning champions Chennaiyin FC in the fifth edition of the Indian Super League (ISL) football meet here on Sunday.

Chennaiyin won the ISL title last year by defeating Bengaluru 3-2 in the final.

Bengaluru were the best side in the tournament, winning 13 of their 18 matches to qualify for the playoffs with four games to spare. In the final though, they failed to put their best foot forward.

In form up front were Miku and skipper Sunil Chhetri netting a total of 26 goals.

Bengaluru, who won the inaugural Super Cup this season, beating East Bengal in the final, travelled to Spain for pre-season training and played against Barcelona B and Villarreal B.

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Bengaluru head coach Carles Cuadrat took charge of the side in the AFC Cup Inter-Zone semi-final last month.

Bengaluru retained 12 players and five youngsters, who graduated from their B side.

Among the retained Indian players are goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, defenders Rahul Bheke and Harmanjot Khabra along with attackers Boithang Haokip, Thongkhosiem Haokip and Udanta Singh.

Midfielder Kean Lewis and defender Sairuat Kima are the new draftees who were signed earlier this season.

Defenders Rino Anto and Gursimrat Singh Gill and goalkeeper Soram Poirei also returned to BFC.

Among foreign players, Miku will lead the forward line alongside Chhetri and joining him will be Dimas Delgado, Juanan Gonzalez and Erik Paartalu.

The Blues also drafted in Xisco Hernandez and striker Chencho Gyeltshen, besides new signee Albert Serran.

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Chennai showed a lot of composure at the back last season and it was because of their defence that they managed to stave off some anxious moments and qualify for the semi-final slot.

They ploughed their way back under the guidance of English coach John Gregory who had instilled a sense of belief into the squad.

In pre-season, Chennaiyin lost all their four games in Malaysia against Felda United, Malaysia U-19s, Terengganu FC and Malaysian Indian Football Association.

Last week, they drew 0-0 against I-League club Indian Arrows.

Chennaiyin also lost centre-back Henrique Sereno while midfielder Rene Mihelic and forward Bikramjit Singh also left the club.

However, the team have brought in Eli Sabia in place of Sereno, and also drafted in Spanish midfielder Andre Orlandi and Palestinian forward Carlos Salom, who would lend support to Indian striker Jeje Lalpekhua.

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John Gregory’s back room staff has also seen changes with Paul Groves replacing Mark Lillis as the new assistant coach and Kevin Hitchcock assuming charge of goalkeeping coach duties in place of Tony Warner.

–IANS

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