Bengaluru FC takes on Tribhuvan Army FC in AFC Cup 2021 Preliminary Stage clash

Marco Pezzaiuoli will take charge of his first competitive encounter as Bengaluru FC head coach during an AFC Cup Qualifier game at the GMC Stadium in Goa.

Bengaluru FC has been in Goa for a little over three weeks, and completed a month of training under new manager Marco Pezzaiuoli ahead of its AFC Cup 2021 opener against Tribhuvan Army FC.   -  BFC Media

Bengaluru FC will mark the start of a new era when it takes on Nepalese side Tribhuvan Army FC in a Preliminary Stage Two clash of the 2021 AFC Cup at the GMC Stadium in Bambolim on Wednesday.

The fixture will be Marco Pezzaiuoli’s first competitive game in charge of the Blues, since his appointment as head coach in February.

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“The players look sharp and the preparation has been good. The youngsters in my team are working hard, and in our friendly against Goa, they performed well. This is an important game for us because we exited the competition early last time, and we want to reach the Group Stage this year,” said Pezzaiuoli, speaking to the media ahead of the fixture.

Tribhuvan Army Club recorded a 5-1 comeback victory over Sri Lanka Police during its Preliminary Stage One clash at the Dasharath Rangasala Stadium in Nepal last week, with striker Nawayug Shrestha scoring twice.

The Kathmandu-based team finished the Martyr’s Memorial League in second place in its previous campaign, with Shreshta finishing top scorer for the side with six goals.

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“Tribhuvan Army have quick players who are good on the ball, and they’ll be looking to focus on the counter-attacks and cause problems for our defence throughout. We want to keep the ball well, maintain a high tempo, put pressure on them and not allow them to play the way they want to, but also be wary of the counter-attacks,” Pezzaiuoli added.

Bengaluru has been in Goa for around three weeks, and has completed a month of training under Pezzaiuoli, who maintained that his side would be more keen on focusing on its own style of play and putting up improved performances as compared to its displays in ISL 2020-21.

Gabonese defender Yrondu Musavu-King remains the lone foreign inclusion in the squad and is expected to man the Blues’ backline alongside Juanan Gonzalez.

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Five BFC B players -- Sharon Padattil, Muhammad Inayath, Damaitphang Lyngdoh, Akashdeep Singh and Sivasakthi Narayanan -- have also made Pezzaiuoli’s squad for the playoff stages.

“It was very important for the team to get physically and tactically ready, and we have been able to do that. The coach has done a good job, and all the players are confident and feeling fresh. We are raring to go because the AFC Cup is a prestigious football tournament,” said goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu.

The winner of Wednesday’s Preliminary Stage Two clash will face either Abahani Dhaka from Bangladesh or Club Eagles of Maldives in the Playoff Round at the same venue.