Bengaluru FC, Aizawl FC clash in AFC Cup group match
Indian Super League runners-up side Bengaluru FC face former I-League champions Aizawl FC in an AFC Cup Group E clash at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati on Thursday.
Both sides are taking on each other in the continental competition in the midst of their campaign in the inaugural Super Cup tournament in Bhubaneswar. Bengaluru and Aizawl have made it to the quarterfinals of the knock-out Super Cup tournament.
Bengaluru began their AFC Cup group stage campaign with a 1-0 win over Abahani Dhaka FC through a second half strike from Daniel Lalhlimpuia, while Aizawl went down 1-3 to New Radiant SC in Maldives.
Bengaluru coach Albert Roca said Thursday’s match would be a tough one and his players will have to play their best.
“It’s a new experience because we’ve never played Aizawl FC in the AFCCup. They deserve to be here because they had a very good season last year, and we expect a tough game tomorrow. They are pumped up after their win over Chennaiyin FC in the Super Cup so it won’t be easy for us,” Roca said at the pre-match press conference.
Asked about his possible team composition, he said, “I can’t say much about the squad composition at the moment. We’re playing back-to-back matches in two competitions and I have to manage the squad as a coach. There might be a few changes, but we’ll decide that later.”
Aizawl are playing in Guwahati as their stadium at home is not AFC approved and Roca has no issues with this aspect.
“It’s not easy, but comfortable. I’m not a fan of the (artificial) pitch there in Aizawl. To play on a natural surface is better for everybody.”
Santosh Kashyap’s Aizawl side, meanwhile, will be without the services of defender Lalramhmunmawia, who was sent off in the previous clash against New Radiant.
Romanian midfielder Andrei Ionescu scored twice for the 2017 I-League champions in the Super Cup pre-quarterfinal against Chennaiyin FC and will be a player that the Blues’ back-line will try to keep at bay.