Bengaluru FC ended their pre-season tour of China with a 3-0 defeat to Chinese Super League team Guangzhou R&F FC at the Guangzhou University Sports Complex, in Guangzhou, on Thursday. The Sven-Göran Eriksson-coached team went into half-time with a 2-0 lead and put the friendly beyond doubt with a late third.
Bengaluru came close on two occasions within a matter of minutes in the second half but Sean Rooney struck straight at the ’keeper just before CK Vineeth’s volley from an Udanta Kumam cross, came off the post.
Just like in the game against Eastern AA, Bengaluru conceded early when striker Zhang Shao turned in the box to shoot R&F into a 4th minute lead. Ashley Westwood was forced to make an early substitution when midfielder Josh Walker had to be pulled off after landing awkwardly on his shoulder, making way for Darren Caldeira.
The hosts went 2-0 up in the 29th minute after Guangzhou’s Zhang Yuan made most of a weak back pass, rounding ’keeper Pawan Kumar before finishing from an angle. Bengaluru FC did manage to ask the R&F defense a few questions and Eugeneson Lyngdoh’s strike from 20 yards missed the target by just a little.
Bengaluru FC stepped up their game in the second half where Westwood threw in Vineeth for Beikhokhei Beingaichho on the left. The pace on the flanks with Udanta on the right, saw Bengaluru keep the R&F defence alert. However, Zhang Chenlong finished matters, calmly finishing after being put through from the midfield.
The big positive for Bengaluru was Westwood’s boys being up to the task on the physical front. The Blues’ game even drew praise from the Guangzhou manager. “Though it was a friendly, it was a game with high intensity and that’s always good to see. I feel Bengaluru FC came strongly at us and were physically very good. It was a game we enjoyed being part of,” said Eriksson.
Westwood said the trip was a good exercise for his team who will be vying for an AFC Champions League spot this season. “The aim of the trip was to test ourselves in Asia as we have aspirations of qualifying for the AFC Champions League. Guangzhou R&F are chasing current AFC Champions League winners Guangzhou Evergrande, in the Chinese Super League so the competition we faced doesn’t get much harder,” he said.
The gaffer was pleased with the fight his side showed in the game against a technically superior side. “We competed hard and we matched them physically and showed them our fitness which was encouraging. We came knowing we can compete at this level. Obviously, there’s a bit of a gap in terms of technical quality and Guangzhou R&F are a few years in front of us in terms of being established. These are the kind of teams we are looking forward to competing with in the future and if we keep working hard, we definitely can compete,” said Westwood.