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

Bengaluru FC slipped to a 2-1 defeat against Maziya S&RC in the first leg of their AFC Cup qualifying campaign clash on Wednesday.

Bengaluru FC

Action from the AFC Cup qualifying clash between Bengaluru FC and Maziya S&RC on Wednesday.   -  Special Arrangement

Bengaluru FC slipped to a 2-1 defeat against Maziya S&RC in the first leg of their AFC Cup qualifying campaign clash at the National Stadium, in Male, on Wednesday.

Strikes from Ibrahim Mahudhee and Cornelius Stewart on either side of a Nili Perdomo spot-kick gave Marjan Sekulovski’s side the advantage ahead of the second leg.

Bengaluru coach Carles Cuadrat fielded a new starting XI yet again as the side began with Leon Augustine on the flank, making his first start for the team. With Suresh Wangjam serving a one-game suspension and Sunil Chhetri injured, Semboi Haokip was given the task of leading the line while Ashique Kuruniyan played down the left.

Maziya was dealt an early blow when striker Asadullah Abdullah suffered an injury and had to be replaced with less than ten minutes played. The home side had a chance to break the deadlock in the 40th minute when Ibrahim Aisham found himself onside and in possession. The midfielder’s shot, however, sailed high of Gurpreet Singh Sandhu’s frame.

Bengaluru then had a chance of its own when Perdomo’s strike from distance was parried away by Maziya’s Afghani goalkeeper Ovays Azizi.

Bengaluru’s first change saw Udanta Singh replace Augustine, and what was a cagey affair came to life in a matter of minutes in the second period. Bengaluru, having thrown bodies forward for a set-piece, saw Paartalu’s header from a resulting long diagonal bounce off the crossbar.

Moments later, Maziya capitalised on a slick passage of play at the other end as Mahudhee picked the ball up in midfield and took a touch, before firing home from distance and past the dive of Gurpreet, handing the host the lead in the 64th minute.

Cuadrat made his second change soon after when Deshorn Brown replaced Semboi. Brown made an immediate impact as he went on to win a penalty within five minutes of his introduction. Perdomo stepped up to take the spot kick and slotted it home to draw parity.

However, Maziya took the lead nine minutes later through Stewart. Having managed to stay onside and find inroads down the middle, Stewart placed his shot past a hapless Gurpreet to put his side ahead with 10 minutes left.

Bengaluru attacked with intent as Cuadrat sent on Nishu Kumar in place of Parag Shrivas, but a resolute Maziya defence held off the Blues’ attempts to claim the victory.

The two sides will clash again the reverse fixture on February 26. 

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