Bengaluru FC takes on Paro FC in AFC Cup qualifying clash

Bengaluru FC will return to continental football when it takes on Bhutan's Paro FC in an AFC Cup Preliminary Stage Two clash on Wednesday.

Sunil Chhetri

Bengaluru FC players, led by captain Sunil Chhetri, train ahead of their AFC Cup qualifying clash against Paro FC.   -  Special Arrangement

Bengaluru FC will mark its return to continental football with an AFC Cup Preliminary Stage Two clash against Bhutan Premier League Side, Paro FC, at the Changlimithang Stadium, in Thimphu, on Wednesday.

Speaking on the eve of the game, Bengaluru coach Carles Cuadrat said: “We have been preparing very well because we love to represent India at the continental stage. The AFC Cup brings back good memories, traveling all over Asia to play semifinals and finals. It’s great to be back in this competition and I hope we will have a good game of football against Paro FC.”

It will also be a reunion of sorts for Bengaluru FC and former Blues’ winger Chencho Gyeltshen, who will turn out for the host. Chencho, the all-time top scorer for the Bhutanese National Team, scored two goals during his time with Bengaluru FC in the Indian Super League, and scored three times over two legs in Paro’s Preliminary Stage win over Defenders FC.

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“Chencho is a great footballer and an even better person. I'm very happy that I will be meeting him again. He's a player with a lot of quality for sure - he’s quick and has a good eye for goal - and I am sure that our defence will have to be at its best to keep him in check,” Cuadrat said.

Captain Sunil Chhetri is part of a 30-man squad that the Blues have registered for the preliminary stages of the tournament, and Cuadrat believes that the regulations allow him to hand opportunities to youngsters.

“The Indian Super League squad can only have 25 players, but the AFC allows me to register five more. There are nine players from my B Team who are part of the squad for the AFC Cup and I believe that they have the talent to represent the first team. It will be nice for some of them to play a game like this,” he said.

Paro qualified for the Preliminary Stage Two of the AFC Cup by virtue of a 5-5 aggregate win over Defenders FC. The Tigers won their first National League title with the 2019 edition of the Bhutan Premier League.

The game at the Changlimithang Stadium kicks off at 2pm IST.

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