AFC Cup: BFC takes on FC Istiklol in a must-win clash

Having lost 0-1 in the away fixture, BFC will have to defeat FC Istiklol by a two-goal margin to guarantee safe passage to the final of the AFC Cup.

BFC players sweat it out in a gruelling training session ahead of its clash against FC Istiklol on Wednesday.   -  V. Sreenivasa Murthy

Bengaluru FC (BFC) faces a tough task against Tajikistan’s FC Istiklol in the second leg of the 2017 AFC Cup inter-zone semifinal, at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium here on Wednesday.

Having lost 0-1 in the away fixture, BFC will have to defeat FC Istiklol by a two-goal margin to guarantee safe passage to the final.

If the game finishes 1-0 in BFC's favour, 30 minutes of extra-time will be played, followed by penalties. The winner of this fixture will take on defending champion Air Force Club (Iraq) in the summit clash.

FC Istiklol has been boosted by the return of key midfielders David Mawutor and Juraboev Amirbek, while defender Artem Baranavskyi continues to serve a suspension. The Tajik side relies on counter-attacks to apply the offensive pressure, as witnessed in the first leg.

READ: Bengaluru FC makes it to AFC Cup Inter-Zonal final

BFC, meanwhile, is coming off a three-week break between the fixtures. The players had a short camp at the BFC Residential Academy in Bellary last week, and have also trained at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium here.

National team players – including skipper Sunil Chhetri – competed in the Asian Cup qualification round during this time, and are now back to club duties.

ALSO READ: 2019 AFC Cup Qualifier: India thrashes Macau 4-1

BFC will look to continue its fine home form, having recorded four successive wins in the AFC Cup here this season. With a raucous crowd expected to back them to the hilt, things could get uncomfortable for the Tajikistan unit.

BFC head coach Albert Roca said that this team has to find the right balance between attack and defense. "If we concede a goal early, we will be in trouble. We have to play intelligent football.

We have to choose when to risk and attack, and when to defend. Overall, all the players have to be on fire tomorrow. It is a question of attitude and pride," he said here on Tuesday.

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