AFC Cup: Bengaluru FC wary of Bashundhara Kings challenge

Bengaluru FC will look to pick up the first points of its AFC Cup campaign when it takes on Bangladesh Premier League champion Bashundhara Kings in their penultimate Group D clash on Saturday.

Cleiton Silva

Bengaluru FC's Cleiton Silva in action during a training session ahead of the clash against Bashundhara Kings.   -  Bengaluru FC

Bengaluru FC will look to pick up the first points of its AFC Cup campaign when it takes on Bangladesh Premier League champion Bashundhara Kings in their penultimate Group D clash on Saturday.

The Blues lost 2-0 to ATK Mohun Bagan in their opening game while Bashundhara beat Maziya S&RC by the same scoreline.

Bengaluru coach Marco Pezzaiuoli said the Bangladeshi side was a force to reckon with, having made light work of its League campaign, which it secured with four games left to play. Bashundhara, which made its AFC Cup debut last season in a campaign that was cut short due to the COVID19 pandemic, retained the 2020-21 Bangladesh Federation Cup in January.

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“We're up against a team from Bangladesh that scored 55 goals in the League and are champions. They conceded only nine goals in the League, and won their first group game 2-0. They score a lot of goals and have a strong defence, are compact at the back and counter very well. We might have to change things a little bit because this is our third game. Our plan will be to maybe go backwards a bit and create space behind them to score goals and create chances,” said Pezzaiuoli.

Pezzaiuoli handed starts to Ajay Chhetri and Naorem Roshan Singh in the clash against ATK Mohun Bagan, while Leon Augustine, Parag Shrivas and Ajith Kumar came off the bench in addition to summer signings Bidyashagar Singh and Danish Farooq. 

“I choose to take the positives from the previous game where we had almost 70 percent ball possession against ATK Mohun Bagan. I think we only need to improve in certain aspects. There is no pressure. Football is not about pressure. We enjoy the games, and I am sure every team wants to be the number one in the Group. We have worked hard in training, and focused on certain things. We want to better our free-kicks and corners, and create better chances and finish them,” Pezzaiuoli added.

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Having made several new foreign signings in Raul Becerra, Jonathan Fernandes, Khaled Shafiei and Robinho (on loan from Fluminense), the Blues will have to be wary of Bashundhara's attack, with the BPL side scoring as many as 67 goals in all competitions this season.

The match will begin at the National Stadium in Male at 4.30 pm IST.

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