BFC look to start a new journey
With their I-League campaign in tatters, Bengaluru FC will look for some solace in AFC Cup as they begin their journey with a group tie against Mohun Bagan at the Sree Kanteerava stadium on Tuesday.
Just over five months ago, Bengaluru were the toast of Indian football. Champions of the country’s premier domestic competition and the first team from India to reach the final of the AFC Cup. ‘Be like Bengaluru’, the others were told. But since the turn of the year, the city side hasn’t been able to replicate the same form. At the continental stage, however, Bengaluru will have to on the money if they’re to have any hopes of making inroads in the competition this year.
A rejig in the tournament format means, just one team from the South Asian group — Group E — will make it to the knock-out stages. And with the likes of Bagan, Maziya S&RC, the champions of the Dhivehi Premier League — the top division league in Maldives — and Abahani Limited Dhaka, the Bangladesh Premier League champions, Bengaluru will have to ensure that there’s no slip-up in their quest for perfection in the tournament.
“Pressure? I see that as a challenge,” said Bengaluru head coach Albert Roca, dismissing the pressure factor.
“The AFC Cup is a competition that we love. Everybody expects us to do well. We have to try our best do to well and give our best and we hope to start our campaign tomorrow with a good result.”
Agreeing that the cramped schedule, which sees both the teams in action for the second time in four days, is an issue, Roca stressed that his side will not take that as a excuse for a below-par show.
Over the past few days Bagan’s head coach Sanjoy Sen has reaffirmed that, for his side, winning the domestic league is of top priority even if it means taking a back seat at the continental stage.
This attitude was very much evident when Bagan travelled to Maldives to take on Club Valencia in the play-off tie last month and Sen prefered to stay back in Kolkata to prepare for the upcoming league tie.
With this attitude still prevalent in the camp, one will have to wonder if we could see a full strength Bagan against Bengaluru.
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