Male (Maldives), 15 August (IANS) Bengaluru FC resume their bid to qualify for the group stage of the AFC Cup 2021 with a playoff match against Maldives side Club Eagles, at the National Stadium, in Male later Sunday. Marco Pezzaiuoli’s men take a victory in Group D in the continental competition, where ISL side ATK Mohun Bagan, Bashundhara Kings (Bangladesh) and Maziya S&RC (Maldives) await.
Bengaluru, who came through the initial phase two with a 5-0 win against Tribhuvan Army FC, landed in the Maldives earlier this week and began preparations for the clash. Should Sunil Chhetri-led side see the Eagles, they will face ATK Mohun Bagan in their opening match in Group D on 18 August.
“It’s not an easy situation to play in. This is the second time we are preparing for this game. We had a good four weeks of preparation at the Inspire Institute of Sport in Bellary, where we lived in a bubble. It was a fantastic facility with a fantastic plot, and now we are here in the Maldives in another bubble, ”said Pezzaiouli.
Bengaluru FC have registered seven new acquisitions in their AFC Cup squad, including defenders Alan Costa and Yrondu Musavu-King, while four more players from the club’s development team have also made the cut.
“We are missing a couple of players for the match against Club Eagles. Prince Ibara has an infection and he has not joined the team, Edmund Lalrindika has a back injury and Harmanpreet Singh has a muscle problem. I have 26 players available and we want to advance to the next stage of this competition, ”he added.
The Eagles, in their maiden AFC Cup campaign, took their way to the playoffs of the competition due to Abahani Dhaka’s withdrawal. Head coach Mohaamed Shaazly’s side had gone through the initial stage with a 2-0 win over Thimphu City, courtesy goals from Hassan Ahmed and Mohammed Naim. In their just-concluded league season, the Eagles finished fourth with four wins, five defeats and five draws.
“We are really grateful that we can finally play a match, and we are really looking forward to the match. We just focus on our team and as players we are all eager to fight for a place in the first XI and give our coach a selected headache. After last season’s defeat to Maziya, we did not feel good because we did not give our best. But this is a new campaign and we will strive to do our best, “said Bengaluru FC captain Sunil Chhetri.
Schedule: Bengaluru FC vs Club Eagles, National Stadium, Maldives, (20.30 IST, Sunday).