Indian football fans expected the Indian Super League (ISL) match between Bengaluru FC and Kerala Blasters in Bangalore on March 1 to have major implications for both teams, but the fact remains that it is a do-or-die match just for the away side.
The rivalry between the South Indian football sides has been long in the making, even before the start of the ISL season. No surprise, therefore, that the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bangalore will be a full house for a Bengaluru FC match for the first time.
As per the organisers, security has been beefed up at the stadium more than any other ISL match this season.
Given that fans have gone overboard with unruly behavior and banter on more occasions than one this season, there is a high chance of crowd violence — something we have seen for a long time in matches between Mohun Bagan and East Bengal.
The coaches of both Bengaluru FC and Kerala Blasters addressed the situation a day ahead of the match in the press conference.
"We want the fans to behave in the best way possible, just like the players do on the pitch," said Bengaluru FC coach Albert Roca on Wednesday. "I want everyone to enjoy and [to the BFC fans] keep supporting us as you have always done."
Former Portsmouth goalkeeper David James hailed the traveling fans and hoped everyone conducts themselves in a proper way on Thursday.
"Bengaluru FC should be respected. The large contingent of traveling fans has told me that Bengaluru is like their second home," said James in the pre-match presser.
"I expect the fans to conduct themselves in a proper way during the match."