Despite a goalkeeping crisis at Bengaluru FC, NorthEast United FC coach Joao de Deus has warned that his side will not be at an advantage in their Indian Super League (ISL) clash here on Friday.
Bengaluru FC's first choice goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu has been suspended for two matches after the India international picked up a red card against FC Goa in the previous match.
The talented Abhra Mondal is injured, and even though Lalthuammawia Ralte has returned from injury, rookie Calvin Abhishek remains the only fit goalkeeper.
"The advantage would be only if Bengaluru FC play without a goalkeeper. But honestly that won't happen. They will have a goalkeeper. I don't care about it because I must look at my team. If it's Calvin, Ralte, Gurpreet or anyone else, it's for their coach to decide, not me. I know for sure that T.P. (Rehenesh) will be our goalkeeper and they will have one goalkeeper," Joao said on Thursday.
NorthEast United are placed sixth on the table with four points from three matches while Bengaluru FC are at the top with six points and a superior goal difference after three matches.
Bengaluru FC coach Alberto Roca was still undecided on his first-choice goalkeeper for the clash with regular goalkeeper Gurpreet suspended and Abhra injured. Ralte, Roca said, "wasn't sure," possibly leaving him with no choice but to field Calvin.
"I have some problems at the back with regard to goalkeepers but these are circumstances that I cannot change. I am confident in my goalkeepers and that whoever plays will do his job well," Roca said.
The visitors, however, will have their talismanic striker and captain, Sunil Chhetri, available. The India captain has joined the team after tying the knot with his long-time girlfriend.
"He is married and available for tomorrow. He joined the team here and he is ready. I think he is the most professional player I've had in my career," Roca said.
The match presents an opportunity for NorthEast United to capitalise on Bengaluru's weakness in front of goal and their low morale after the defeat in Goa.
NorthEast themselves secured an important win against Delhi Dynamos FC in the previous match and are now confident they can add to their points tally.
"We are better today than 15 days ago when we played Jamshedpur. For 15 days, we worked hard to create our own identity. We are better. I am sure that Bengaluru FC are also better than their first game," Joao said.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)