New-Look Blues Look To Take Big Step In Continental Quest; Security Concerns Force Fixture To Be A Closed-Doors Affair; Kick-Off Brought Forth To 4 pm..
Bengaluru FC resume their quest for continental glory when they take on Singapore side Tampines Rovers at in the first leg of the AFC Cup quarterfinal at the Kanteerava Stadium, in Bengaluru,on Wednesday. The Blues will however, have to shrug off the disappointment of playing in front of an empty stadium after the tense political situation in the city over the last two days forced the AFC to resign the tie to a behind-closed-doors affair. Security concerns have also forced the AFC to bring forth the kick-off time of the game to 4 pm.
Blues coach Albert Roca, for whom this will be his first game in charge since taking over the reins at BFC, expressed disappointment at the prospect of playing a home fixture behind closed doors but said the team would do everything to make sure it isn’t a disadvantage. “It’s a real shame to not have our supporters in the stands tomorrow but these are circumstances that we have to accept now. All we can say at this moment is that we’re going to look to put in a good performance in a bid to get the best result. It’s been three and a half months without competition and the boys were keen to show where we are trying to get to. We just have to move on and give this our best,” said Roca.
Tampines, who arrived in the city on Monday, come into the tie with the luxury of having played competitive games regularly given the S-League is at its business end. Bengaluru, meanwhile, have had to contend with four practice games as a build-up to the game. Roca though, while admitting he would have liked more competitive fixtures as a precursor to the game, refused to use it as an excuse. “I can’t change the circumstances. I would have loved to play 20 friendly games and 20 competitive ones but that isn’t possible. This is our chance to take a big step ahead in the tournament and we will give it everything we have,” he said.
Bengaluru have added to their arsenal this summer in signing midfielders Cameron Watson and Alvaro Rubio along with defender Juanan Gonzalez and Roca is confident that the new signings will bring much to the big game. The Spaniard also revealed that injured winger Udanta Singh has recovered and could have a role to play on Wednesday.
On the injury front, Tampines will be without striker Farzul Nawaz who has been forced out with a long-term injury but have ample quality in Billy Mehmet, Jordan Webb and former Arsenal and Liverpool winger, Jermaine Pennant.
Tampines man at the helm, Akbar Nawas, said he wasn’t sure what to make of the Blues given the change in command but was confident his side had been playing regularly enough in the league back home to be able to come away with a good performance away from home.