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ISL 2022-23: Bengaluru FC look to continue charge for playoffs as ATK Mohun Bagan eye third place (preview)

Kolkata, Feb 4 (IANS) Bengaluru FC will have an opportunity to move back into the playoff spots as they go toe-to-toe with ATK Mohun Bagan in the Indian Super League (ISL) 2022-23 at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati, here on Sunday.

The Mariners can move up into third place if they can keep their unbeaten record intact against the Blues.

In their final five league games, ATK Mohun Bagan will be hoping for positive results to help them gain the momentum they need for the playoffs in March. In the last six ISL games, the Mariners have won two, drawn two and lost two. Last week, they ended their two-game goal drought after securing a 2-0 win over Odisha FC.

Dimitri Petratos scored both goals and extended his season’s goal tally to seven. The Australian striker also has six assists to his name. Petratos has already scored against Bengaluru FC earlier this season in the reverse fixture that ended 1-0 in favour of ATK Mohun Bagan.

Liston Colaco and Manvir Singh are expected to start down the flanks as Ashique Kuruniyan will miss the match against his former club as he serves a suspension for the red card he picked up in second-half stoppage time last week against Odisha FC.

“This match is very important because we are playing at home. Bengaluru FC’s performance has improved over the last few matches. I know it is important for them to get into the playoffs but we are confident and our target is to get three points,” said head coach Juan Ferrando.

“After the match against Odisha FC, we knew we would be without two players for the next game and in the last four days, we planned accordingly,” he added.

Bengaluru FC have finally gained the momentum they were looking for all season. The Blues have won their last four Hero ISL games and will be keen to take advantage of Odisha FC and Chennaiyin FC cancelling each other out earlier this week. They now have the chance to go two points clear of Odisha FC and out of reach of Chennaiyin FC.

Siva Narayanan has cemented his starting XI spot with some excellent performances over the last few weeks. The 21-year-old has scored four and registered one assist in the four games so far and looks menacing alongside Roy Krishna. Krishna himself has scored two goals and assisted one in the last three games.

“We are coming into this game with confidence after winning the last four games. I believe that records are there to be broken, so why not get our first win in Kolkata? We are very respectful of the opposition and they are in a good position in the league,” said head coach Simon Grayson.

“I’m sure Juan and his team will be well aware of how well we can play and the threats we pose. It will be two good teams going head-to-head at the business end of the season,” he added.

The two sides have met five times in the ISL. The Mariners have won on four occasions and one game has ended in a draw. The Blues have never beaten ATK Mohun Bagan. In the last two matches, they have failed to score against the Mariners.