Bengaluru FC and Mohun Bagan to lock horns in AFC Cup

Bengaluru FC and Mohun Bagan get their AFC Cup Group ‘E’ campaigns underway, at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru on Tuesday. This follows an I-League encounter held at the same venue recently, which resulted in a goalless draw.

Mohun Bagan training at the Kanteerava Stadium, ahead of the AFC cup match between Bengaluru FC and Mohun Bagan in Bengaluru on Tuesday.   -  K. Murali Kumar

Bengaluru FC (BFC) and Mohun Bagan will lock horns for the second time in four days, with the focus now shifting to an international competition.

The two sides get their AFC Cup Group ‘E’ campaigns underway, at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium here on Tuesday. This follows an I-League encounter held at the same venue recently, which resulted in a goalless draw.

A good start in these group stages will go a long way in determining which club progresses to the knockout rounds. Unlike last year, where the top two units made the cut from the four-team pool, only the single outfit will qualify this time around.

Mohun Bagan showed that it was content to sit back and hit on the counter, which frustrated Bengaluru no end during their I-League fixture. Even with the visitor down to 10 men in the 70th minute, Bengaluru could not breach the Bagan defence, led by Eduardo Soares and Anas Edathodika.

The Bengaluru attackers have their task cut out once again. “Bagan defended well on Saturday, and I expect them to do the same. We are lacking when it comes to finishing our attacking moves. We have to keep working on that. If we can score and win tomorrow, it will change the entire dynamic of the side,” Bengaluru coach Albert Roca said.

Bengaluru striker Sunil Chhetri wore a glum face at the media interaction - was blunt in his assessment of a mediocre season so far.

“The most important reason why we have not been doing well is that we are not getting the goals. In every match, we have at least three shots on goals and 10 attempts. But we have not been able to convert. If we don’t convert, we won’t win. Simple as that. It is important to get a fresh start in a new tournament,” Chhetri said.

A confident Bagan forward Darryl Duffy stated, “We created chances in the previous match, and we hit the target frequently. I hope we can do more of the same again, but perhaps move the ball faster in the final third. If we can execute that, we can take a one or two goal lead into half-time.”