Last edition runners-up Bengaluru FC take on Maziya Sports & Recreation of the Maldives in their AFC Cup match in Male on Tuesday, with both sides aiming to win and go clear at the top of the group.
Both Bengaluru and Maziya Sports & Recreation have won their respective opening fixtures. Bengaluru triumphed 2-1 at home in an all-Indian clash with Mohun Bagan on March 14 while Maziya ran out 2-0 victors over Bangladesh’s Abahani Limited on the same day in Dhaka.
Bengaluru would not be playing in totally alien conditions on Tuesday as the two sides were grouped together in 2015 with the Indian side winning both legs by a 2-1 margin.
It was Sunil Chhetri’s brace here that set Bengaluru up for a surge to the Round of 16 in what was the club’s first AFC Cup appearance. Bengaluru head coach Albert Roca said he expected a fierce contest on Tuesday.
“It’s going to be a difficult game. Maziya won their first game in Bangladesh. We expect a really tough game tomorrow,” he said. “There will be pressure on any team who always want to win. But this is a challenge for us to come here and do our best and try to win.”
“They have made some good signings and are fresh from their win over Abahani. More importantly, they are playing at home which makes them even more dangerous. We are not going to have it easy,” said Roca.
The Spaniard had rested key players Sunil Chhetri and Eugeneson Lyngdoh from the starting line up a couple of days ago against Mohun Bagan in the I-League, a match which they lost.
“I expect a different Bengaluru. They rested their players in the league it means they are giving importance to AFC Cup. So we need to be ready for that,” Maziyacoach Marjan Sekulovski said.