Preview: Bengaluru FC look to finish their AFC Cup campaign on a high with a win against Maziya
Bengaluru FC will have plenty of pride to play for when they take on local side Maziya Sports & Recreation in their AFC Cup Group D South Zone encounter at the National Football Stadium in Male (Maldives) on Tuesday evening.
The Blues are already out of the inter-zone semi-final reckoning having lost to fellow Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) side ATK Mohun Bagan 2-0 in their opener and then split the points against Bashundhara Kings in their last game after a goalless draw. Like the Blues, Maziya are out of the reckoning having been beaten by both Bashundhara Kings and ATK Mohun Bagan in their previous games.
Barring the last 20 minutes against the Kings, Bengaluru FC have been sub-standard so far in the competition, particularly in the final third where both Cleiton Silva and skipper Sunil Chhetri have failed to deliver the goods. Youngsters Naorem Singh, Bidyashagar Singh and Danish Farooq, however, showed a lot of promise against the Kings.
As far as Maziya are concerned, they dominated ATK Mohun Bagan in the first half and even took the lead in the 25th minute through Aisam Ibrahim. Though, they were no match for the Kolkata-based club in the second half as Antonio Lopez Habas’ men ran away to a 3-1 win. Be that as it may, Maziya have players like Cornelius Stewart and Mohamed Hamza and they can be more than a handful on their day.
Bengaluru FC would also remember that it was Maziya that had shown them the door last year in their AFC Cup play-off tie, plus they are playing in familiar conditions. When all is said and done, both teams would want to finish their campaign on a good note and there will be no dearth of motivation for either camp, which makes it a mouth-watering contest.
In the pre-match press conference, Bengaluru FC head coach Marco Pezzaiuoli said his boys were upbeat and were ready to face Maziya having moved on from their previous performances.
“We're highly motivated to finish well in this tournament. We trained this morning, and I saw a good spirit. We had a good game, created a lot of chances and I think we deserved to win [against the Kings].
“One thing we know is that the Maziya team played two games and lost, but we need to respect them. We need to focus on our style. From the game against the team from Nepal [Tribhuvan Army FC], we have made several steps.
“I hope tomorrow we make another step forward for our mentality. It's not easy, but in life it's not always about winning. We want to progress and move forward regardless of the last result.
“The team spirit is good. Today in training I saw it was very good. We may not be happy on the night of the game but we talk about it and look forward and we're positive. We worked hard in training and in the gym and we want to win this game. I'm 100% sure of that.”
Bengaluru FC squad: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Lalthuammawia Ralte, Sharon Padattil, Lara Sharma, Pratik Chaudhari, Wungngayam Muirang, Ajith Kumar, Ashique Kuruniyan, Parag Srivas, Yrondu Musavu-King, Alan Costa, Sarthak Golui, Biswa Darjee, Suresh Wangjam, Jayesh Rane, Danish Farooq, Rohit Kumar, Muhammad Inayath, Namgyal Bhutia, Ajay Chhetri, Sunil Chhetri, Udanta Singh, Cleiton Silva, Roshan Singh Naorem, Siva Sakthi, Akashdeep Singh, Bidyashagar Singh, Leon Augustine, Harmanpreet Singh
Kick-off time: 9:30 pm (IST)
Live telecast: Star Sports Network
Streaming: Disney+ Hotstar VIP and JioTV