Following the stirring 1-1 draw with Kolkata's Mohun Bagan in the inaugural I-League fixture, Bengaluru are obviously riding the wave of confidence. The Shillong team won the Division Two last year to gain a promotion, and cannot be dismissed lightly.

Rangdajied, however, have not had a good start this season, with a 0-2 loss to United SC in Kolkata last weekend. Coached by Santosh Kashyap, Rangdajied present a re-jigged team despite a severe cash crunch. Former Churchill FC star Lamine Tamba has reunited with Kashyap, who coached the Senegalese defender during his stint with the Mahindra Under-19 squad.

Brazilian striker Edmar Figueira and midfielder Yohei Iwasaki from Japan along with Korean striker Ho Jun Shin, who has been retained, complete the four foreign imports each team is allowed, though the team is without striker Badmus Babatunde who played a key role last season.

Kashyap has made it known that his target for the season is a top-10 finish. A tough task indeed, but the coach reckons it is not beyond his team, given the talented youngsters from the region. As for Bengaluru FC, they will be keen to make amends for the lapses against Bagan against whom they muffed a penalty, besides a host of other scoring opportunities. Yet, the team, under coach Ashley Westwood from England, caught the eye with an all-round team effort.

Australian Sean Rooney's second-half goal gave Sunil Chhetri-led Bengaluru a 1-0 lead that they nursed until the stoppage time when Bagan, who too missed a penalty, equalized through Sabeeth to split points.

Westwood was understandably disappointed with the draw, but on the positive side, he must be pleased as punch with Malemngamba Meetei, the former HAL winger who was adjudged Man of the Match for his speedy forays that stretched the Bagan defence.

The hosts would be hoping that their strikers would do better in converting scoring chances against Rangdajied, who are to be expected to play with far more freedom since they will be starting out as the underdogs.


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