Bengaluru FC set to lock horns with Altyn Asyr FK in AFC Cup interzonal semi-final first leg
Written by: Punit Tripathi
The Blues will be looking to make the most of the opportunity to have a shot at the title.
After a long off-season, Indian club football is back. Super Cup winners Bengaluru FC travelled to Spain for a pre-season that saw them play Villarreal B, Barcelona B and UAE side Al-Ahli among others. The Blues documented themselves well, and as the preseason progressed, the fitness and link-up looked returning.
Before the Indian season starts, the JSW club is set to take on their continental duties. Bengaluru FC will play Turkmenistan-based club Altyn Asyr FK at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium on Wednesday. The three-time Turkmenistan Higher League championship winners have been regular champions and were 2nd and 4th in their group at last attempts to continental qualifying.
About the teams
Bengaluru FC is easily one of the best sides in the country and the SAFF region, having time and again proven their mettle against the continent’s top brass. Altyn Asyk, on the other hand, was founded in 2008 and rose to become their nation’s best by 2014.
Bengaluru won the South Zone group and qualified for the Interzonal playoffs. The Blues saw off competition from Aizawl FC, Bangladesh’s Abahani Dhaka and New Radiant SC from the Maldives. Altyn Asyr qualified from the Central Zone, a group that consisted of 2017 AFC Cup runners-up FC Istiklol, FC Ahal and FC Alay.
The Blues have had a healthy pre-season in Spain and under new coach Carles Cuadrat, they look as comfortable as ever. The stay of Venezuelan forward Miku is a massive boost for the club, as they look to continue their European presence the continental way. Bengaluru failed to win the Indian Super League (ISL) last season and thus, will not play in Asia until they win the AFC Cup.
Altyn Asyk is also a dominant force, having won the top division in Turkmenistan twice in the last four seasons. Helped by Süleýman Muhadow’s raw goal-scoring abilities, Asyr will easily be a force to reckon for the Sunil Chhetri-led side.
North Korea's 4.25 SC will play ASEAN Zone champions in the other semi-final. The winners will progress to the two-legged final. The winner will then play the West Zone champions, either the Air Force Club from Iraq or Al Jazeera from Jordan, in the Grand Final.
The home leg will be played at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru on Wednesday, while the return leg is set to be played on the 29th at the Ashgabat Stadium in Turkmenistan. The first match will start at 8 PM IST.
Sandhu, Nishu, Juanan, Bheke, Anto, Khabra, Paartalu, Xisco, Udanta, Chhetri, Miku
Manager: Carles Cuadrat
Altyn Asyr FK
Orazmuhamedow, Annaorazow, Babajanow, Charyyev, Mirsultanov, Astanow, Batyrow, Aşyrow, Hojaýew, Bayov, Muhadow
Manager: Ýazguly Hojageldyýew
What to Expect
Expect a battle of rigidity. Bengaluru FC can play three-at-the-back, while Asyr will look to control the midfield. Both teams are good at set-pieces, but Asyr can be expected to dominate possession. Bengaluru, meanwhile, will soak a lot of pressure and hit on the counter, with Udanta Singh the key here. All-in-all, Khel Now expects the home side to win with a small margin. The second leg will be an open affair with a lot to play for.
Published: Wed Aug 22, 2018 11:33 AM IST