Away goal and defence Bengaluru’s trump cards in home tie against Paro FC

Bengaluru FC host Bhutanese champions Paro FC at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru on Wednesday for the second leg of their 2020 AFC Cup Preliminary Stage 2 clash. A second-half Semboi Haokip goal in the reverse fixture in Thimpu means that the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2018-19 champions will go into the tie with a win and an away goal under their belt, making them favourites to progress to the next round.

Reiterating the importance of the away goal in the context of the match, Bengaluru head coach, Carles Cuadrat, at the pre-match press conference, opined, "It's very important to get an away goal in these situations. I remember that two years ago we came back with a goalless draw and it makes you uncomfortable because anything can happen in football."

The away win and goal give the Blues the luxury of taking a measured approach to the tie, which, coupled with their stellar defensive record this season, give them a huge edge in the contest. Mentioning the same, Cuadrat stated, "We have 11 clean sheets in 17 official games this season, which tells you that we have been working well in defence. If we can manage another one on Wednesday, we will go through and that's the cushion that the away goal gives us."

The Spaniard, however, urged his players to be on their toes against a pacey Paro FC attack, led by former Bengaluru player Chencho Gyeltshen. "I really like their team and the work they are doing. I watched their games against Defenders FC in the previous round and the country of Bhutan should be proud of the work they're doing," he said.

"I think Chencho is their best player and he will be motivated to do well. We have to be focused to keep him quiet and I thought my team did well against them in Thimphu," he added.

Providing some team news, Cuadrat informed that Sunil Chhetri and Naorem Roshan Singh, who impressed in his senior debut in the reverse fixture, will be out for the match.  He informed, “I gave Roshan the chance in Thimphu and he did well to get the assist for the goal. I'm very happy with our young players. Unfortunately, he has pulled a muscle and cannot play, but it gives me the opportunity to give another youngster the chance to play. We're going to rest Sunil because he has a little disturbance in the muscle. Apart from him and Roshan, we have a fully fit squad for the game.”

Having played in the Hero ISL last Saturday against Chennaiyin FC, the AFC Cup match due on Wednesday and scheduled to play Kerala Blasters FC on February 15, Bengaluru will be involved in three games within a short span of seven days. Asked if he was concerned about the fixture congestion, Cuadrat noted, “February is a busy month for us and it's great because we love playing football. We're happy because we're playing football every three days. We have the opportunity to play in the AFC Cup and it's what we love doing.”

The Bengaluru gaffer was accompanied by defender Gursimrat Singh Gill, who said, “As a defender, your motivation is to keep a clean sheet. We came away from Thimpu with a positive result and bringing that here is a big motivation because we play in front of our fans.”

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