Blues Up Against Johor As Roca’s Side Aim To Become First Indian Club To Make AFC Cup Final.
A floodlit Kanteerava Stadium will be the cynosure of all eyes on Wednesday as JSW Bengaluru FC take on Malaysian side Johor Darul Ta’zim with a shot at history. Should things go the way of the Albert Roca-coached side, Bengaluru will become the first team from India to make it to the final of the AFC Cup.
The second leg of the semifinal is evenly poised after the Blues came away with a 1-1 result in Johor three weeks ago and will need a win or a clean sheet to progress to the final to be played on November 5.
Roca negated the talk of pressure and felt the game was a great opportunity for Indian football that he would like his boys to make the most of. “Johor are the Champions of this competition. They are still favourites for me but it is a nice opportunity for us and Indian football. It’s going to be a tough mission but we are ready for it. We have shown that we are a competitive team and we have to do the same tomorrow,” he said while addressing the media, on Tuesday.
It will be interesting to see how the Spaniard approaches the clash, with the Blues having had a majority of the possession in the first leg at the Larkin Stadium in Johor. Roca will look to his side’s attacking quotient of skipper Sunil Chhetri and CK Vineeth to turn possession into goals as midfielder Eugeneson Lyngdoh will fancy his chances against a side that he’s scored against on two occasions.
Suspensions have hit Johor hard and Mario Gomez will be missing his Argentine striking pair of Jorge Pereyra Diaz and Juan Martin Lucero along with Yahyah Amri – all of who picked up their second bookings in the home leg of his tie. The absence of three first-choice strikers would require experienced but out of favour Safee Sali to bear the burden of attack while talismanic skipper Safiq Rahim will be expected to do more in midfield.
Bengaluru, on the other hand, have fewer troubles in comparison but Roca rued not having the pace of Udanta Singh and Lalchhuanmawia – both of who are yet to recover from injuries.
The game has caught the frenzy of the entire nation with support pouring in from all quarters and the Fortress is expected to hold fans in excess of 15,000, a factor that Roca cites as extremely important. “It was a shame that we couldn’t play in front of our fans in the quarterfinal but that changes tomorrow. They have been instrumental in the success of this club and will play a very important role the team gets on the pitch,” he said. The game will kick-off at 7 pm and will be telecast on the Star Sports network.