Bengaluru FC will lock horns with Tajikistans FC Istiklol as both teams fight for a place in the 2017 AFC Cup final at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium on Tuesday.Bengaluru FC will lock horns with Tajikistans FC Istiklol as both teams fight for a place in the 2017 AFC Cup final at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium on Tuesday.
Having gone down 1-0 in Dushanbe in the first leg of the inter-zone play-off final, Albert Roca’s side will need to beat the Tajik champions by a two-goal margin.
Coming into the game, visitors Istiklol who arrived in the city on Monday, have been boosted by the return of Ghanaian midfielder David Mawutor and Tajik midfielder Juraboev Amirbek while Ukraine defender Artem Baranavskyi continues to serve a suspension. Banking on their counter-attacking skills, the Tajik side managed to create a host of chances in the first leg, but were denied on most occasions by a resolute defensive performance from the Blues, who dominated possession throughout the game.
However, having been denied a penalty in the closing stages of the game, Bengaluru FC will be hoping to move on and get the desired result at the fortress.
Building up to the game, the Blues utilized their three-week break between the ties training in the city before a short camp at the BFC Residential Academy in Bellary last week.
Having completed a few sessions at the Kanteerava, and the return of national team players, the hosts are geared up for one of the biggest games of the season. With no suspensions or injuries to worry about, the Blues will have a full-strength squad at their disposal as they aim to turn around the tie.
Speaking on the eve of the game, Roca said, “We all know the permutations and combinations now and it’s simple for us. We need to win by two goals, and so we need to get off to a good start. It won’t be easy against Istiklol who will be hard to break down, but there’s no turning back and we will go all out to get the result.”
With the team back in familiar conditions, and a natural turf to play on, Roca wants his team to make most of the home advantage.
For the record, Bengaluru haven’t lost at their home in the AFC Cup this season, logging four successive wins, scoring eight goals and conceding just one. With fans playing an important role during this campaign, the coach didn’t shy away from highlighting their role as the team’s 12th man.
“We have a good record at home this season, and it gives us a boost ahead of the game. The fans have been great so far, and I know that the atmosphere they’ll create will give our players that extra motivation during the game. They have always been there behind us and we want to give them another reason to cheer,” said Roca as he urged fans to support in numbers.
Should the game finish 1-0 to the Blues at the end of regulation time, extra-time will be played followed by penalty kicks.