Under Marco Pezzaiuoli, the Blues will look to do well and thereby banish the demons from their dismal ISL 2020-21 campaign.

As the domestic stage draws its curtains, it was a season to remember for a few of the teams, while expectations were not met for several others. Bengaluru FC fall under the latter category. The Blues, who had been in the playoffs in all three seasons before, finished a disappointing seventh in this campaign of the Indian Super League (ISL). They also their title-winning manager Carles Cuadrat leave the club. Under Marco Pezzaiuoli, BFC will look to achieve the success they desire, starting with the AFC Cup 2021 playoffs.

With a seasoned squad at his disposal, the new manager will be counting on the chemistry and attitude of the players to stand firm against hefty challenges from other continental teams. Bengaluru’s best-ever run in the competition so far came when they reached the final in the 2016 AFC Cup. Going one step further this time would etch their name in the history books.

Here, we take a look at five players who would be crucial for the Blues in the continental tournament:

5. Suresh Singh Wangjam

AFC tournaments’ rule of three foreigners and one AFC player is going to put more focus on Indian players and what they would be able to do. Suresh Wangjam is coming off a breakthrough season, having established himself as a regular at such a young age. His presence and solidity in midfield will allow the new tactician to use more experienced foreigners in other parts of the pitch.

Wangjam is coming off an impressive ISL campaign, which saw him make his senior national team debut against Oman. He will be looking to keep improving and contributing in the continental cup.

4. Yrondu Musavu-King

The newest BFC recruit will be looking to take the continental stage by storm when he kits up for the Blues in the upcoming AFC Cup 2021. The Gabonese defender is a strong pickup for Manuel Pezzaiuoli, who aims to start his reign at the helm by qualifying for the group stage of the AFC Cup 2021 with a strong playoff showing.

The defender comes with loads of experience having played for clubs like Granada, Udinese and SM Caen and will be very influential at the back. He could also prove to be key at the other end of the pitch, with his heading ability being a vital factor during offensive set-pieces.

3. Erik Paartalu

The key factor for Bengaluru during the tournament would be the additional AFC player slot. And Erik Paartalu would be a key figurehead for the Blues. The midfielder brings a level of familiarity and chemistry in the middle of the park. His tendency to win 50-50 balls and disrupt opposition attacks is going to be vital for Bengaluru.

The tall Australian is also a menace during set-pieces, one of Bengaluru’s key offensive strong points.

2. Sunil Chhetri

Captain Sunil Chhetri is a national treasure. His spirit and undying desire to win has pushed Bengaluru past several challenges. The Indian talisman will be one of the key figures if Bengaluru FC aim to make it deep in the competition.

His leadership qualities is something envied by the rest of the league and the Indian is going to be a key differential for the Blues during the tournament, having already played for them in their run to the final in 2016.

1. Gurpreet Singh Sandhu

Despite a lackluster season all-around, Gurpreet has managed to be one of the few consistent lights for Bengaluru FC. The solid custodian made 58 saves in 19 matches, the fourth-highest n the league. Despite his lack of clean-sheets, the former Stabaek keeper has come good on several occasions and has been very reliable.

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