Bengaluru look to raise the bar

Bengaluru look to raise the bar

Bengaluru look to raise the bar

Wholesale changes and missed chances pretty much summed up Bengaluru FC's first leg AFC Cup preliminary round qualifier outing against Bhutan's Transport United on January 23.

A week on since the goalless draw in Thimpu and coach Albert Roca will definitely look to put out a stronger squad at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium on Tuesday in an attempt to secure his side's progress.

With the advantage of having the second leg at home, Roca had rested his marquee players but this time around, it will be do-or-die for the Blues who have a fully fit squad at their disposal.

"Yes, we have to take advantage of our squad. But it's also necessary to rotate our squad since we have a packed calendar. Hope they will play well tomorrow," said Roca hinting that the addition of senior players could be minimal.

BFC strikers were lacklustre against Transport, wasting a host of good chances. But Roca refused to play a blame game, saying: "I definitely cannot blame my players. They are good strikers but unfortunately don't have the rhythm right now because of lack of opportunities. I hope games like this will help them grow."

BFC's prolific Venezuelan striker Miku is not in the squad for the preliminary rounds and Daniel Lalhlimpuia, who wasn't at his best in Bhutan, could be given another chance up front. Toni Dovale, who was impressive the last time around orchestrating play, is almost assured a starting place and so is midfielder Malsawmzuala with Harmanjot Khabra another sure starter.

The Bengaluru coach is likely to opt for a blend of youth and experience in what will be a crunch game for the home side. Meanwhile, the experience might be a slightly overwhelming one for Transport considering this is their first AFC Cup campaign. Coming up against the likes of BFC skipper Sunil Chhetri and other stars, the Bhutanese side will have their task cut out in front of the Bengaluru faithful.

"We had a good advantage in the first leg in terms of playing at home and the weather suiting us but this time around, they hold the edge. That being said, we will come out with all we have and produce a strong fight. It's a great opportunity to play against such experienced players," voiced Transport coach Ngawang Dendup.

Transport's Kencho Tobgay said he was eager to get onto the pitch and learn from the stars in the opposition line-up. "We will be very happy to play against their key players who have so much experience and talent. Even if we lose, we will be learning so much from them so it's like we're winning anyway," opined the winger with a smile.