THE BLOG BY CPD FOOTBALL | The World of Indian football and beyond by Chris Punnakkattu Daniel

Ashley Westwood: We go into this AFC Cup game without any fear

Rino Anto (Bengaluru FC)

Rino Anto (Bengaluru FC)

Bengaluru FC will look to shrug off fatigue courtesy cramped scheduling and a delayed flight when they face South China AA in a one-legged AFC Cup pre-quarterfinal fixture to be played at the Mong Kok Stadium, in Hong Kong, on Tuesday evening. Less than 24 hours after returning from Goa where they played out a 1-1 draw with Dempo in the I-League, the Blues landed in Sha Tin on Monday evening after a six-hour delay owing to inclement weather in Hong Kong.

The only Indian side to have made the knockout stages, Bengaluru FC will be up against Hong Kong’s most decorated football club in South China and head coach Ashley Westwood is confident that his boys will rise to the occasion. “We’ve played a game on Saturday in the league, the flight times to Hong Kong weren’t ideal and there was a delay as well. But now that we are here, we won’t be looking back at any of that. We’ve come here to do our best and will try putting on a good performance. At this club, we ‘ve always been positive and strong and that doesn’t change,” said Westwood while addressing the press on the eve of the game.

South China made the Round-of-16 as Group G toppers with an all-win record that saw them score 19 goals and concede only three in the league stages. In fact, they were the only team with a 100% win record through the eight groups.

But despite the numbers and the history that precedes South China, Westwood said his team were going into the game with an idea of what they are up against but will be under no pressure whatsoever. “We played a team from Hong Kong, Eastern Sports Club, on our pre-season tour and we got a little feel of the football from there. As far as South China are concerned, we’ve managed to watch a few recent videos, have studied them and roughly know what they are about. We aren’t going into the game blind. They have good foreigners, are an organised side and are hard to break down. But we are under no pressure. We’ve done well to make it this far in our AFC Cup debut and we go into the game with nothing to lose,” opined the Englishman.

The Blues will also look to fall back upon their impressive away form in the tournament that saw them come away with maximum points from trips to Singapore and Maldives.

Westwood has a completely fit and available side at his disposal as do the hosts and it will be interesting to see the line-up he rolls out tomorrow given the Blues play the I-League title decider against Mohun Bagan only four days later.