Bengaluru FC will look to become the first Indian club to enter the final of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup when they host reigning champions Malaysia’s Johar Darul Ta’zim in a second leg semi-final match in Bengaluru on Wednesday.
The first leg ended in a 1-1 draw with Eugeneson Lyngdoh scoring for the I-League champions to grab a vital away goal ahead of the second leg match at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium.
Johar will be without their attacking trio comprising of Jorge Pereyra Diaz, Mohd Amri Yahyah and Juan Martin Lucero.
“Obviously it’s (missing three key players) going to hurt us but we have to work on other strengths to seal the spot in the AFC Cup final,” Johor coach Mario Gomez said in a release.
He praised Bengaluru for their impressive showing in the first leg, “Bengaluru have done a splendid job back at our home and they are obviously having an advantage, thanks to their away goal. But I’m a person who prefers to work and obviously we’re coming tomorrow to win the tie.”
Bengaluru’s coach Albert Roca stated that “this could be special for Indian football”.
The Spaniard said his team won’t shy away from playing an attacking brand of football on Wednesday as they have been doing under his stewardship.
“We know that we have scored against them in Malaysia, which is important. But, our intention is not to sit back and defend. We want to go out and try to score more goals because we will not be able to reach the final with a defensive mindset,” he said in the release.
Lyngdoh, who will be in focus after scoring in the first leg, said the team is intending to create history by entering the final.
“Obviously it’s about the representation of our country on the bigger stage. We have played up to our potential, but the job is far from done and we need to step up tomorrow to get it done ahead of our home crowd,” he said in the release.
Roca said he has kept a composed demeanour ahead of the crucial game so as not to heighten expectations.
“I consider that this is a very important match for India because only two teams have reached the semi-finals and none have reached the final. The people are realising that this could be special for Indian football.”
“As for me, I try to be calm because I want the team to be calm as well. I do not want them to be overconfident because this is a game of football and there will be more such games in the future. As of now, there is a game tomorrow and we will try to do our best.”