Pezzaiuoli optimistic despite ‘bleak’ AFC Cup picture
Bengaluru FC head coach Marco Pezzaiuoli is ready to take Bangladesh’s Bashundhara Kings head on in their AFC Cup Group D South Zone game at the National Football Stadium in Male (Maldives) on Saturday.
The Kings, under Oscar Bruzon, are high on confidence having sealed the 2021 Bangladesh Premier League earlier this month. And then they ran away to a 2-0 win against Maldives’ Maziya Sports & Recreation in their AFC Cup group opener on Wednesday. Pezzaiuoli, whose team lost their opener 2-0 against fellow Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) side ATK Mohun Bagan, understands very well what awaits them on Saturday but insists the Blues have a plan in place to counter the in-form Bangladeshi club.
“We’re up against a team from Bangladesh that scored 55 goals in the League and are champions. They conceded only nine goals in the League, and won their first group game 2-0. They score a lot of goals and have a strong defence, are compact at the back and counter very well.
“We might have to change things a little bit because this is our third game [including the play-off against Club Eagles on August 15]. Our plan will be to maybe go backwards a bit and create space behind them to score goals and create chances,” he told in the pre-match press conference.
Even if Bengaluru FC manage to beat the Kings, there is a possibility they may not advance to the next round (inter-zone semi-final). ATK Mohun are also in action against Maziya Sports & Recreation later on Saturday and if the Mariners win the game, it would signal Bengaluru FC’s exit from the competition since -- as per the tournament regulations -- they can’t finish above Antonio Lopez Habas’ men having lost their opener against them.
Pezzaiuoli, however, is not thinking too much about what may happen on Saturday. “In football and in life, we cannot be negative. The opponents are fit, and have been playing [regularly because of the ongoing league in Bangladesh]. Some leagues are in action, some are not at present [like the Hero ISL].
“We have worked hard in training, and have focused on certain things. We want to better our free-kicks and corners, and create better chances and finish them,” he said.
Defender Yrondu Musavu-King echoed his head coach’s sentiments on the matter. “It doesn't change anything that they were [playing] in their [domestic] competition coming into the AFC Cup. We stay focused. We are ready for this game. We lost the first match, and we have two games to play and we want to win them. We will play to win,” he said.