BFC set for continental test

BFC set for continental test

BFC set for continental test

After a disappointing 2-1 loss to Johor Darul Takzim in the first round of the AFC Champions League playoffs that ended the club’s hopes of playing in Asia’s elite club competition, Bengaluru FC will now begin their campaign in the AFC Cup, the second tier continental competition, against Maldives’s Maziya S&RC at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium on Wednesday.

Placed in Group E, which also features Persipura Jayapura of Indonesia and Warriors FC of Singapore, the Blues will hope to start the tournament well and pick up all the three points. It is also an opportunity for them to get back to the winning ways after a dismal show against Mohun Bagan in their last I-League match.

Post the loss against Pune FC early in the season, Bengaluru have made a strong statement. Wins at home against Bharat FC and Shillong Lajong have boosted their confidence and despite the defeat against Bagan, coach Ashley Westwood said the team’s form was good.

“Our form for me, even though we have lost three games, has been good. I think we were playing well in all games except maybe against Pune where we deserved to lose. All the other games, we did enough to get something out of it,” he said.

Westwood believed the AFC Cup engagement would help the team go a long way in achieving their goals for the season.

“It’s nice to have a little break from the league and look forward to something fresh. The boys are looking forward to test our levels in and around Asia to see how well we can do. I think we are in good confidence and the lads have been buoyant despite the loss,” said the Englishman.

Westwood confirmed the availability of Sean Rooney for the tie. The Australian striker missed the last three matches owing to a training ground injury he suffered late last month.

The home team will hope that their front line fires, while the rearguard will get a much needed boost with the return of Curtis Osano who missed the Bagan tie due to a suspension.

Challenging the Blues will be the winners of the Maldives FA Cup, Maziya. The Ali Suzain-managed side comes into the tournament beating Ceres La Salle FC 1-0 in their play-off tie and will hope for an upset win.

Playing the continental tournament for the second time, Suzian is confident that his boys will put up a good show. “We have been playing since the start of the year and the team is in good shape. We have seen a few videos involving BFC and we think they are a great side. It will be a hard battle on the field tomorrow and we hope to put up a good show,” he said.

The visitors will depend on their experienced pair of Brazilian Silas Dos Santos Junior and Spaniard Pablo Rodríguez for the goals, while Japanese Toshiya Hosoe is expected to marshall the midfield.

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