AFC Cup: Bengaluru FC coach optimistic despite big challenge ahead

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Male (Maldives), Aug 21 (IANS) Bengaluru FC head coach Marco Pezzaiuoli has said that overcoming Bangladesh’s Bashundhara Kings in their AFC Cup Group D South Zone game later on Saturday would take a lot of effort from his side as the rival concede very few goals.

“We’re up against a team from Bangladesh that scored 55 goals in the League (Bangladesh Premier League earlier this month). They conceded only nine goals in the League, and won their first (AFC Cup) group game (in Maldives) 2-0. They score a lot of goals and have a strong defence, are compact at the back and counter very well,” said Pezzaiuoli.

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The Bashundhara Kings, under Oscar Bruzon, are high on confidence having sealed the 2021 Bangladesh Premier League earlier this month. They beat Maldives’ Maziya Sports & Recreation 2-0 in their AFC Cup group opener on August 18.

Pezzaiuoli, whose team lost their opener 2-0 against fellow Indian Super League (ISL) side ATK Mohun Bagan, understands what awaits them later on Saturday but insists Bengaluru FC have a plan in place to counter the in-form Bangladeshi club.

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“We might have to change things a little bit because this is our third game (including the play-off against Club Eagles of Maldives on August 15). Our plan will be to maybe go backwards a bit and create space behind them to score goals and create chances,” he said.

Even if Bengaluru FC manage to beat the Kings, there is a possibility they may not advance to the next round (inter-zone semifinal). ATK Mohun Bagan are also in action against Maziya Sports & Recreation later on Saturday and if the Mariners win the game, it would signal Bengaluru FC’s exit from the competition since — as per the tournament regulations — they can’t finish above Antonio Lopez Habas’ men having lost their opener against them.

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Pezzaiuoli, however, is not thinking too much about what may happen on Saturday. “In football and in life, we cannot be negative. The opponents are fit, and have been playing (regularly because of the ongoing league in Bangladesh). Some leagues are in action, some are not at present (like the ISL).

“We have worked hard in training, and have focused on certain things. We want to better our free-kicks and corners, and create better chances and finish them,” he said.

–IANS

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