Bengaluru FC Head Coach Marco Pezzaiuoli maintained there was no pressure on his side as they prepare to face Bangladesh Premier League champions Bashundhara Kings, in their penultimate Group D clash of the 2021 AFC Cup, on Saturday. Kings, who ran out 2-0 winners against Maziya S&RC in their first group stage game, will be eager to get the better of the Blues, who went down to ATK Mohun Bagan by the same scoreline.
An own-goal from Mohammed Irufaan, followed by a strike from Brazilian winger Robinho, sealed three points for Oscar Bruzon’s side in their opening clash against Maziya S&RC. Speaking to the press ahead of the encounter, Blues’ boss Pezzaiuoli said the Bangladeshi side were a force to reckon with, having made light work of their League campaign, which they secured with four games left to play.
“We’re up against a team from Bangladesh that scored 55 goals in the League and are champions. They conceded only nine goals in the League, and won their first group game 2-0. They score a lot of goals and have a strong defence, are compact at the back and counter very well. We might have to change things a little bit because this is our third game. Our plan will be to maybe go backwards a bit and create space behind them to score goals and create chances,” said Pezzaiuoli.
Bashundhara, who made their AFC Cup debut last season in a campaign that was cut short due to the COVID19 pandemic, retained the 2020-21 Bangladesh Federation Cup in January. Pezzaiuoli handed starts to Ajay Chhetri and Naorem Roshan Singh in the clash against ATK Mohun Bagan, while Leon Augustine, Parag Shrivas and Ajith Kumar came off the bench in addition to summer signings Bidyashagar Singh and Danish Farooq.
“In life you cannot be negative. I choose to take the positives from the previous game where we had almost 70% ball possession against ATK Mohun Bagan. I think we only need to improve in certain aspects. There is no pressure. Football is not about pressure. We enjoy the games, and I am sure every team wants to be the number one in the Group. We want to win, and so do Bashundhara Kings. We have worked hard in training, and focused on certain things. We want to better our free-kicks and corners, and create better chances and finish them,” Pezzaiuoli added.
Having made several new foreign signings in Raul Becerra, Jonathan Fernandes, Khaled Shafiei and Robinho (on loan from Fluminense), the Blues will have to be wary of Bashundhara Kings’ attack, with the BPL side scoring as many as 67 goals in all competitions this season.
Kick off between the Blues and Bashundhara Kings at the National Stadium is scheduled for 4.30 pm IST, and will be telecast live on the STAR Sports network, Hotstar and JioTV.