Beaten 1-2 in their away match when they fielded non-regular players, Bengaluru FC will look to turn the tables in their AFC Cup second-leg play-off tie against Maziya S&R of Maldives in Bengaluru on Wednesday.
Head coach Carles Cuadrat fielded a few players from the academy in the away fixture in Male on February 19 but he will look to go all out in front of home supporters at the Kanteerava Stadium on Wednesday.
The Blues will be confident going into the match as they came back with an away goal from Male and their talismanic captain Sunil Chhetri is also set to return after a short injury lay-off.
Most of the first team players will have fresh pair of legs as Cuadrat also rested a good number of regular starters in their last Indian Super League game against ATK, a 2-2 drawn affair, on Saturday.
A win is a must for Bengaluru FC, whereas a draw will allow Maziya to progress to the next stage of the AFC Cup. The Blues need to win 1-0 or by a two-goal margin to progress further.
“We know that we have to score minimum one goal. So, we will try to be offensive and try to go for the goal. At the same time, we have to be careful not to concede. We know that 1-0 is enough; it’s 90 minutes, a lot of things can happen,” Cuadrat said at the pre-match press conference.
Strikes from Ibrahim Mahudhee and Cornelius Stewart on either side of Bengaluru midfielder Nili Perdomo’s spot-kick in the first leg gave Maziya a slim advantage ahead of the second leg.
“Well, we’re playing at home with our supporters. We will try to keep going in the competition, but it’s going to be difficult because Maziya defend very well and they are going to try to stop us from scoring. But we have a very good combination with the winning mentality of the players and the supporters at the Fortress.”
Chhetri said he was feeling good after suffering a hamstring strain three weeks back.
“I had a hamstring strain about three weeks ago and it feels good to be training with the team again. That’s about it. I’m feeling positive now, and I’m taking it one day at a time,” he said.
“We already saw the highlights and we’ve prepared for the game well. The whole team knows exactly what to do. We are going to go for it and at the same time be careful as well, any mishap or any goal that we concede is going to make our task difficult. It’s our home, we back ourselves.”
The play-off winners will join I-League champions Chennai City FC, TC Sports Club of Maldives and Bashundhara Kings of Bangladesh in Group E of the 2020 AFC Cup.
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