Mumbai: Defending champions Bengaluru FC, who won the country's coveted I-League football title on debut last year, will clash with high-flying Mumbai FC here on Tuesday in what promises to be a no-holds-barred battle.
The holders, who are also the Federation Cup winners, are currently third in the league table and a victory over the home team, who are on a roll with three successive wins, would pitchfork them to the pole position.
Mumbai FC, unbeaten in four previous games at the refurbished Cooperage ground, have a huge task on hand to maintain their clean slate at home.
Head coach Khalid Jamil knows how tough the match can be for his team before the lengthy break in the league schedule to accommodate India's international engagements.
"They are the champion side. They are mentally and physically very tough. We have to be stronger than them," said Jamil.
Significantly, Mumbai FC had drawn both their games against Bengaluru FC last year.
Fortunately for the hosts, their top under-23 player Jayesh Rane can play tomorrow's game before attending the national camp in Goa as the All India Football Federation has acceded to the various clubs' request on this count, a Mumbai FC team official informed.
Mumbai FC's Claytus Paul said the home team was upbeat.
"We are confident now, after winning our last three matches," he said.
Ashley Westwood, head coach of Bengaluru FC who have won four games, lost three and drawn one to garner 13 points, pointed out that his side have not been outclassed by any other side even in defeats.
"We seem to play well on artificial turf. I don't see any problems. This is one of the better ones," he said about the Cooperage playing surface.
He also had good words for the opposition.
"They are a good team who will win more matches than they lose. I don't think we are the favourites," said Westwood.