2017 AFC Cup: Bengaluru FC face Tajikistan’s FC Istiklol in must-win game
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2017 AFC Cup: Bengaluru FC face Tajikistan’s FC Istiklol in must-win game

Bengaluru FC, who lost the first leg 1-0, need to defeat Tajikistan’s FC Istiklol to enter the final of 2017 AFC Cup. Bengaluru FC finished runners-up in the tournament last year

football Updated: Oct 18, 2017 10:45 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Bengaluru FC,FC Istiklol,AFC Cup
Bengaluru FC captain Sunil Chhetri during a practice session ahead of their AFc Cup match against FC Istiklol .(Bengaluru FC)

Bengaluru FC take on Tajikistan’s FC Istiklol at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium on Wednesday, needing a win in the second leg match to enter the 2017 AFC Cup final.

Having gone down 0-1 in the first leg in Dushanbe, the 2016 runners-up will need to defeat the Tajik club if they are to get a shot at revenge with last year’s winners Air Force Club (Iraq), who are in the final for second year running.

READ | Bengaluru FC suffer 0-1 loss to FC Istiklol of Tajikistan in AFC Cup football

Istiklol, who arrived in Bengaluru on Monday, have been boosted by the return of Ghanaian midfielder David Mawutor and Tajik midfielder Juraboev Amirbek while Ukraine defender Artem Baranavskyi continues to serve a suspension.

Having completed a few sessions at the Kanteerava, and the return of national team players, the hosts are geared up for one of the biggest games of the season. With no suspensions or injuries to worry about, the Blues will have a full-strength squad at their disposal as they aim to turn around the tie.

READ | From fake boots to flying missiles, Bengaluru FC’s nightmare trip to North Korea

Speaking on the eve of the game, Head Coach Albert Roca said, “We all know the permutations and combinations now and it’s simple for us. We need to win by two goals, and so we need to get off to a good start. It won’t be easy against Istiklol who will be hard to break down, but there’s no turning back and we will go all out to get the result.”

With the team back in familiar conditions, and a natural turf to play on, Roca wants his team to make most of the home advantage. For the record, the Blues haven’t lost at the Kanteerava in the AFC Cup this season logging four successive wins, scoring eight goals and conceding just one.

READ | Bengaluru FC get Rs.64 lakh booty, draw North Korea side in 2017 AFC Cup zonal semis

“We have a good record at home this season, and it gives us a boost ahead of the game. The fans have been great so far, and I know that the atmosphere they’ll create will give our players that extra motivation during the game. They have always been there behind us and we want to give them another reason to cheer,” said Roca as he urged fans to support in numbers.

Should the game finish 1-0 to the Blues at the end of regulation time, extra-time will be played followed by penalty kicks.

First Published: Oct 17, 2017 18:54 IST