AFC Cup: Chhetri set for Bengaluru return in crucial tie against Maziya

It's been five matches since Sunil Chhetri has turned out in a Bengaluru FC shirt. On Wednesday, the Blues skipper will likely be back to lead the side.

Sunil Chhetri in training for Bengaluru FC ahead of the second leg of the AFC Cup playoff match.   -  K. Murali Kumar

Sunil Chhetri is set to make a welcome return after a gap of five games as Bengaluru FC (BFC) looks to reverse a 2-1 away defeat to Maziya S&RC in the second leg of the AFC Cup playoff at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium on Wednesday.

The continental competition, of which BFC was the finalist in 2016, ranks high in the club’s list of priorities. Nili Perdomo’s goal back in the Maldives means that BFC can progress to the group stage with just a 1-0 result (through away goals rule). But if Maziya scores even once, the host will have to score thrice.

READ | AFC Cup playoff: Bengaluru loses to Maziya S&RC in first leg

“The whole team knows what to do,” said Chhetri on Tuesday. “We hold the AFC Cup very high in our agenda and we are going to go for it. But we need to be careful because any goal we concede is going to make things difficult. So it will be controlled aggression. But it’s at home and we back ourselves.”

BFC has scored goals in clusters this season. Where in the ISL the tally (22) puts it in the bottom three, the side pumped 10 across two legs over Paro FC in the previous AFC Cup tie. Semboi Haokip, who scored five of those, will miss the Maziya contest, but Chhetri was confident that goals would come.

“We have been guilty of missing chances; myself, Udanta [Singh], Ashique [Kuruniyan]," the talisman said. “But the good part is that we are creating a lot of chances. With the last few games left, this is our time [to score].”

Maziya, though, has left no stone unturned in its quest to move further in the tournament. The team arrived in the city on Saturday, a full four days ahead of the contest, to acclimatise to the conditions and its Macedonian coach Marjan Sekulovski was calm and assured on match-eve.

“We are happy with the lead, but we need to continue the form,” he said. “A draw is enough but you don't play for a draw. You always try to win. But if it finishes in a draw, it’s good for us.”

Match kicks-off at 7.30 p.m.

Support Sportstar


Dear Reader,

Support our journalism — where text and pictures intermingle so seamlessly — and help us scale up your experience as the world changes around us. Your contribution is vital to our brand of uninfluenced, boots-on-the-ground reportage that’s worth your while. Clickbait sensationalism is not for us, but editorial independence is — we owe it to you.

  Dugout videos