Bengaluru FC, Maziya look to finish AFC Cup campaign on a high

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Male (Maldives), Aug 24 (IANS) With an aim to finish their campaign on a positive note, both Indian Super League (ISL) side Bengaluru FC and Maldives’ Maziya Sports & Recreation will lock horns in their AFC Cup Group D South Zone encounter at the National Football Stadium in Male, Maldives later on Tuesday evening.

Bengaluru FC are already out of the inter-zone semifinal reckoning having lost to fellow ISL side ATK Mohun Bagan 2-0 in their opener and then split the points against Bashundhara Kings in their last game after a goalless draw. Like Bengaluru FC, Maziya are out of the reckoning having been beaten by both Bashundhara Kings and ATK Mohun Bagan in their previous games.

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Barring the last 20 minutes against the Kings, Bengaluru FC have been sub-standard so far in the competition, particularly in the final third where both Cleiton Silva and skipper Sunil Chhetri have failed to deliver the goods. Youngsters Naorem Singh, Bidyashagar Singh and Danish Farooq, however, showed a lot of promise against the Kings.

As far as Maziya are concerned, they dominated ATK Mohun Bagan in the first half and even took the lead in the 25th minute through Aisam Ibrahim. Though, they were no match for the Kolkata-based club in the second half as Antonio Lopez Habas’ men ran away to a 3-1 win. Be that as it may, Maziya have players like Cornelius Stewart and Mohamed Hamza and they can be more than a handful on their day.

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In the pre-match press conference, Bengaluru FC head coach Marco Pezzaiuoli said his boys were upbeat and were ready to face Maziya having moved on from their previous performances.

“We’re highly motivated to finish well in this tournament. We had a good game, created a lot of chances and I think we deserved to win (against the Kings). One thing we know is that the Maziya team played two games and lost, but we need to respect them. We need to focus on our style. From the game against the team from Nepal (Tribhuvan Army FC)], we have made several steps,” Marco said.

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“The team spirit is good. We worked hard in training and in the gym and we want to win this game. I am 100 per cent sure of that.”

Bengaluru FC would also remember that it was Maziya that had shown them the door last year in their AFC Cup play-off tie, plus they are playing in familiar conditions, which makes Tuesday evening’s encounter a mouth-watering contest.

–IANS

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