New outfit Bengaluru FC will make their much-awaited Indian Super League (ISL) debut when they cross swords with last season's semi-finalists Mumbai City FC on Sunday. The Sree Kanteerava Stadium will witness a first when the home team, a two-time I-League champions, takes to the field in the country's new top-tier league. The clash between the two rivals would be interesting, for they hardly know each others' game. "It is the beginning of a new era in this club's history, but the boys know they can't get carried away by the occasion. Mumbai City are a good side and we will have to be at our best if we are to take anything away from the clash," BFC head coach Albert Roca said at the pre-match press conference. In all likelihood, BFC will go in with field five foreign players as per the league rules.
It will be interesting to see the team fielded by Roca, given the inclusion of Braulio Nobrega, Edu Garcia and Miku, who join defender John Johnson in the Blues' squad for the ISL.
Bengaluru have been given the green light to play goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, with league rules allowing the Federation Cup winners to replace Lalthuammawia Ralte, who is set to miss at least four weeks with an ankle injury.
Also missing out for upto three weeks will be Dimas Delgado, owing to an injury suffered in pre-season.
"It's unfortunate that Dimas and Mawia picked up injuries but at the same time, I am happy that Gurpreet can fill the void in the goalkeeping position. He makes us secure and will play a crucial part tomorrow," Roca said.
Guided by Brazil-born Costa Rican gaffer Alexandre Guimaraes, Mumbai come into the game on the back of a pre-season in Spain, where they played seven friendly games.
With former Blues custodians Amrinder Singh and Arindam Bhattacharja in their ranks, the Islanders have also brought in some flair with as many as five Brazilians headlining their overseas contingent, which will be led by Romanian defender Lucian Goian.
Asked about Mubai FC, Rocca said, "Mumbai have a coach who did well with them last season and they have got good foreigners who can cause trouble on their day. But we will focus on our game and look forward to putting out a performance that will make our fans proud."
Meanwhile, Bengaluru FC, who were involved with the AFC Cup commitments, travelled to the BFC Residential Academy in Ballari for a two-week camp.
The build-up also saw the Blues play multiple friendly games against East Bengal in Bengaluru and Chennai City, Gokulam FC and Minerva Punjab in Ballari before returning to the city.