Bengaluru FC need win vs Abahani, favour from Aizawl FC in AFC Cup
Bengaluru FC will hope for the rub of the green to go their way at more than one venue when they take on Abahani Limited Dhaka in their final Group E game at the Bangabandhu National Stadium on Wednesday.
Albert Roca’s men need a win while hoping Aizawl FC claim a point or more against New Radiant SC in Group E’s other fixture, if they are to stand a chance of qualifying for knock-out stages of the Cup for a fourth successive year.
Meanwhile, the Maldivian side simply need to match Bengaluru FC’s result, as a better goal difference in the head-to-head comparison between the two sides will pull New Radiant through.
Speaking to the press on the eve of the clash, Roca said, “It’s true that we are in a position where a win may not be enough to qualify, but it has been made clear to the players that we have to remain focused on the task ahead. We cannot take Abahani (Limited Dhaka) lightly, as they are a team with some good players and we have seen that in our travels here before.”
Bengaluru’s only previous visit to Dhaka ended in defeat to the Bangladeshi side in the group stages of last year’s AFC Cup campaign with late goals from Saad Uddin and Rubel Miya handing Roca’s men a 0-2 loss.
In a more recent meeting between the sides, Daniel Lalhlimpuia scored in the 72nd minute at the Kanteerava Stadium in March as the Blues began their continental campaign.
The Saiful Bari Titu-coached Abahani side are out of contention for the knockout stages and have won just one of their five games so far this campaign, a 3-0 away victory in Aizawl - their only win across all competitions in the last four months - but Roca believes there is no room for complacency.
“We have always had close games against Abahani Dhaka, as they are difficult to break down and play a different style of football. The conditions in Bangladesh are also quite different from what we are used to, so we will have to be wary if we are to do well and take anything away from this game,” the Spaniard said.
Bengaluru were dealt a late blow when winger Boithang Haokip suffered an injury that kept him out of the traveling squad while right-back Nishu Kumar has joined the team from Kolkata, where he was in action with the club’s reserve squad against Mohammedan Sporting in the 2nd Division League.
Meanwhile, Abahani will be missing the services of midfielder Mohammad Fahad, along with the Nigerian duo of attacker Sunday Chizoba and defender Ndukaku Alison who are all suspended.