Bengaluru FC look to get AFC Cup off to a positive start against Maldivian side Maziya
Bengaluru: The Kanteerava Stadium will play stage to the biggest night in its role as the home of Bengaluru FC when the Blues kick-start their AFC Cup Group E campaign with a game against Maldivian side, Maziya Sports & Recreation Club, on Tuesday.
Coach Ashley Westwood said that though the start to the season may have been slow, the performances were encouraging and that his boys were keen on getting the tournament off to a good start. “We’re looking forward to this match; our first game in the AFC Cup. The preparations have been going quite well and we’re looking forward to putting out a really positive performance,” he said.
The Maziya team that arrived in the city on Saturday evening has played in the AFC Cup in 2013 where they failed to make it out of the group stages. On the other hand, Bengaluru FC’s sole tryst with continental football was a brave show in the 1-2 defeat to Johor Darul Ta’zim in the AFC Champions League play-off game, in Johor, earlier this month.
However, Westwood admitted that Bengaluru FC didn’t know much about their opponents spare the fact that they will be coming at the Blues with everything. “We don’t know too much about them, to be honest. We know they’ve got three international players; a Spanish centre-forward, a Bulgarian centre-half, and a Japanese midfielder.”
“They also have a few Maldivian internationals so they’re going to be a strong side. They’re probably one of the strongest in Maldives and they’re going to come and give us a good game. It’s a different game, it’s a cup competition and the best team is going to come out and win,” said the Englishman.
Hit hard with injuries that forced key players out of the last two League games, Westwood had better news ahead of tomorrow’s clash. “The boys who didn’t travel to Mohun Bagan (Lalchhuanmawia, Rino Anto and Sean Rooney) have come through a really good session yesterday so they’re all fully fit and available for selection.”
“We’re more or less at full strength with regard to the injury department which is encouraging. We’ve not only got this game to look forward to, we’ve also got three fairly quick League games as well that comes upon us,” said the gaffer.
Maziya coach Ali Suzain said that though his team have been around for longer than Bengaluru, experience wouldn’t count for anything when the teams take the pitch. “We are very happy to have qualified and to have an opportunity to play against one of the strongest sides from India and a well-organized side.”
“As a recently formed side, Bengaluru FC have never played in the AFC Cup before, but they have good players with bundles of experience, an energetic young coach and good foreign players I don’t think experience counts for anything in tomorrow’s game.” The game kicks off at 7.30 pm.