Bengaluru FC aim for top spot

Bengaluru FC aim for top spot

Having secured a place in the last 16 of the AFC Cup, debutants Bengaluru FC will aim for the top spot in Group E when they take on Persipura Jayapura of Indonesia in the final group game at the Sree Kanteerava stadium here on Tuesday.

Jayapura lead the group with 13 points from five games, while Bengaluru are placed second with 12 points. The two teams will be keen to extract maximum points from the tie as it would ensure a home fixture in the last-16 stage.

Moreover, the table-topper will also avoid South China Athletic Association, a dominant Hong Kong side who sit on the summit of Group G winning all their group games so far and will host the runner-up from Group E.

Bengaluru enter into the tie on the back of a disappointing outing in the I-League that saw their hopes to defend title take a hit after a draw against Shillong Lajong.
The hosts will hope to use Tuesday’s tie as a platform to get back to the winning ways before moving into the business end of the season.

“We know that the game against them (Jayapura) will be difficult so we need to be on top form to get something out of it,” said Ashley Westwood, the Benagluru coach.
“We are fortunate that we don’t have too much pressure on us because we have already qualified, so we can go into the game fairly freely and see how good we are, which is what the AFC Cup has been all about for us this year,” added Westwood, who will be forced to making a few changes to his line-up owing to injuries and suspension.

Midfielder Thoi Singh will miss the tie due to suspension after he picked up his second yellow against Maziya S&RC a week ago. Australian forward Sean Rooney and defender Rino Anto will have to prove their fitness after injuring themselves in the tie against Lajong.

In their previous tie, Jayapura were a class apart, handing the Indian champions a 3-1 drubbing. But Bengaluru were without Sunil Chhetri, Eugeneson Lyngdoh and Robin Singh, who were busy with national commitments. All three are available for selection for  Tuesday’s game.

 Osvaldo Lessa, the Jayapura coach, hoped that his boys would maintain their dominant display.

“It was great to see how my team played against Bengaluru the last time we met. This time too, we won’t be trying anything different.”

“Bengaluru is a very strong team and we will have to play a smart game if we need something out of this tie,” said Lessa. “Though a point from this tie will help our cause, we won’t be playing for a draw. We will like to get into the knockouts on the back of a win.”

With just defender Ricardo Salampessy missing due to an injury, Jayapura will hope that their attacking duo of Boaz Solossa and Argentine Robertino Pugliara continue to trouble the opposition defence with thier pace and skills.

Their midfield is to be led by the Indonesian international Zulham Zamrun, in the company of Ian Kabes and the South Korean Lim Joon-sik.

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