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Bengaluru FC look to seal AFC Cup berth at Kanteerava

Bengaluru FC skipper Sunil Chhetri in training at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium, in Bengaluru. (Photo courtesy: Bengaluru FC)

Armed with the advantage of three away goals, Bengaluru FC will look to seal qualification in the group stages of the AFC Cup when they take on Maldivian side TC Sports Club at the Kanteerava Stadium, in Bengaluru, on Tuesday evening.

A Thongkhosiem Haokip brace and Erik Paartalu’s fourth goal since signing for the Blues gave Albert Roca a 3-2 win in Male last week after the Spaniard saw his side allow TC to come back from two goals down to level things in what was a strange second half.

The visitors need to win by either a two-goal margin or win scoring more than three goals at the Fortress if they are to edge Bengaluru out and Roca, while sounding confident, warned his side against complacency. “This tie is far from over. Yes, we’ve scored three away goals but we’ve also conceded two and I don’t see why they won’t take the game to us on Tuesday. That said, we are always confident of our abilities and more so at home. We need to focus and get the job done,” said Roca.

Bengaluru seemed to be cruising with two quick second-half goals at the National Stadium when lapses in defence saw the hosts hit back through Anatolii Vlasichev and Ibrahim Mahudhee. But a Haokip screamer in the 78th minute killed the fight from TC in what were difficult conditions. “We had a tough time coping with the weather and pitch conditions in Maldives. Thankfully we have the chance to get the job done at home and we need to make most of the familiar conditions.”

The win came at the cost of an injury to defender Harmanjot Khabra who had to be substituted after he picked up a hit to his chest. The No.10 missed out on the ISL fixture against FC Pune City and won’t be available for selection on Tuesday as he continues to recover.

Roca chose to rest names like Sunil Chhetri, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Juanan Gonzalez, Dimas Delgado and Lenny Rodrigues and whether the Spaniard hands them a role in the fixture at home, remains to be seen. “I am happy with the way the youngsters on the team have responded to responsibility and they surely need more game time. I will leave the decision late on whether or not I include players who didn’t travel to the Maldives, on the squad for Tuesday,” said Roca.

Group E, as it stands, has three slots filled with Abahani (Bangladesh), Aizawl FC and New Radiant (Maldives) booking their place in the continental competition.

(Bengaluru FC)