Bengaluru: It's being billed as the fixture of the season by all and sundry but Ashley Westwood decided to play down the hoopla surrounding the Bengaluru FC-Mohun Bagan clash that takes place at the Kanteerava Stadium, on Saturday, as 'just another football match'.
Bagan return to the stadium where they won their first I-League title after equalizing late against the Blues to break Bengaluru hearts on the last day of the 2014-15 season, but Westwood refused to be drawn into the 'grudge' label. "There are no grudges. It's just a football match. It's the eighth game of the season which means we are halfway there and there are eight more games to play for. Yes, we are playing the title contenders but the result won't impact the title race as such," said Westwood while adding that his team was looking forward to the game and wouldn't need any extra motivation.
The Blues are coming on the back of a commanding 4-1 win over League debutants DSK Shivajians and Westwood said he was pleased with the fact that Bengaluru had four different scorers in that game. "It's the sign of a good side. We aren't reliant on one or two players like some teams are. Our goals are shared across - Vineeth has a few, as do Sunil and Kim. Even Osano has a goal for himself."
Bagan, meanwhile, came away with a 0-0 result to Mumbai FC, their second draw of the campaign. But striker Cornell Glenn simply put it down to a bad day at the office. "What happened in the last game is something that happens to every team - a bad day."
Glenn, a summer signing for the Mariners, has forged a potent partnership with Sony Norde ahead while Katsumi Yusa pulls the strings in the midfield. The trio coming up against what is easily the strongest central defensive pairing in the League in John Johnson and Curtis Osano, will be an interesting sub-plot to the game.
What will also be interesting to see is the first XI that Westwood decides to roll out given the way he's rotated the squad since the start of the season. The gaffer fielded as many as four new faces after the defeat to Sporting, in the win against Shivajians. While Eugeneson Lyngdoh and Daniel Lalhlimpuia continue to recover from injuries, Ranjan Singh and Udanta Singh are with the U-23 national team that has made the semifinal of the South Asian Games in Guwahati. "We have a competitive squad. We have 24 outfield players and anyone can find themselves in the frame for the first team. We looked at options the other night by making a few changes," said Westwood.
The two teams have met five times in all competitions where Bengaluru and Bagan have won a game each while three of the fixtures have ended up in draws.
The game kicks off at 7.05 pm and will be telecasted live on Ten Sports