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Bengaluru FC keen to make a point in AFC Cup encounter

Sunil Chhetri (Bengaluru FC)

Sunil Chhetri (Bengaluru FC)

A confident and in-form Bengaluru FC take on Maziya Sports & Recreation Club at the National Football Stadium, in Maldives, on Tuesday, knowing that a point will be enough to send the current Indian champions through to the pre-quarterfinal stages of the AFC Cup.

The Blues sit second on the Group E table with 9 points from four games, five points more than third-placed Maziya who have played an equal number of games. Indonesian team Persipura Jayapura have already booked a berth to the last-16 while Singapore’s Warriors FC have already been eliminated.

But while a draw on Tuesday would suit Bengaluru just fine, coach Ashley Westwood said his team would be going for the win keeping in mind the bigger picture of coming out as group leaders. “Winning the group is something we want to do because it means we get a favourable draw in the next round. So, we will be trying to win the game against Maziya as we will against Persipura. We are a new club and fresh in this tournament so we want to win as many games as we can and make a name for ourselves. We will be approaching tomorrow’s game in a positive manner which is something that you are always guaranteed from us,” said Westwood while addressing the press on the eve of the fixture.

Shankar Sampingiraj scored a dramatic injury-time winner when Maziya came to Bengaluru in a game that ended 2-1 and while Westwood says his side were confident, they aren’t taking anything for granted. “When I say we are confident, it’s confidence in our own abilities, not about winning the game. You can never guarantee a result in football. Maziya are a good side and we are expecting a very tough game.”

Bengaluru registered their first away win in Asian competitions, putting on a stellar performance in a 1-0 defeat of Warriors in Singapore while on the national league front, Westwood’s boys are on an eight-game unbeaten run and will hope to carry the form into the game against the Maldivian side.

Left-back Lalchhuanmawia hasn’t made the trip owing to a suspension and spare his absence, Westwood has a fully fit and available squad to choose from. In fact it will be interesting to see who Westwood starts with given the depth in squad the gaffer has owing to the performances being thrown in. The coach could afford to start Sunil Chhetri and Robin Singh on the bench in the win against Bharat FC and it only goes to say much about the choices Westwood has been spoilt for.

Maziya too have a player missing in central defender Zhivko Dinev. The Bulgarian is believed to have suffered a knee injury that will keep him on the sidelines for a while.

The game kicks off at 16.30 IST.