A win will see the Blues progress to the knockout phase…
Bengaluru FC are in a happy mood right now after winning the Federation Cup a few weeks back but will need to focus on the task ahead as they go into their final group stage match against Maziya S&RC knowing that anything but a win will crush their dreams of progressing further in the AFC Cup.
The Blues fell to a crushing defeat to Mohun Bagan in their previous match in the AFC Cup, which really affected their chances of making it out of the group stage as Maziya sit top with a with a three-point lead over them. Bengaluru have the advantage in the head-to-head rule but will need to defeat the Maldivian club to make it into the knockout stages of the competition.
It would be a real disappointment if the finalists from last year’s are knocked out in the group stages itself this time. The Blues will need to give it their all against this stubborn Maziya side who will themselves look to make history at the expense of Albert Roca’s men, who have a lot to lose in this crucial match.
Bengaluru FC will be without striker Udanta Singh but captain Sunil Chhetri has returned to fitness and is expected to play. Striker Marjan Jugovic will also feature. On the other hand, their prominent foreigners in John Johnson and Cameron Watson are both fit and with CK Vineeth looking to have picked up his form as well, Bengaluru will hope they don’t miss Udanta and Chettri in this match.
Maziya S&RC will go into the match with a fully fit side, as they don’t even have any suspensions after their recent win against Abahani Limited Dhaka in the previous round. Maziya are no pushovers themselves and have shown impressive away form in the group stages, winning both their away games against Mohun Bagan and Abahani. They’ll definitely protect their lead and would be glad with a draw.
Head To Head
Bengaluru FC and Maziya have only met once in their history, which was back on Matchday 2 of the group stages. A late winner from Bengaluru FC defender John Johnson gave the Blues all three points on that day and they will look to emulate the same thing on Wednesday.
Albert Roca-Bengaluruu FC: In what is a massive fillip for Bengaluru, skipper Sunil Chhetri has recovered from a muscle injury that saw him miss the semifinal and final of the Federation Cup. However Roca will be without Udanta Singh who limped out of the title clash in Cuttack against Bagan. “Sunil has been working hard with our medical team and will be available for the game. However, Udanta is still recovering from his injury,” said Roca.
Maziya are not an unknown foe, with the Blues having played the Maldivian champions three times, coming out winners in every one of those clashes. “We have a 100% win record against Maziya and while the numbers do give us confidence, the record isn’t something we will make too much of when we step on the pitch,” added Roca.
Man To Watch
CK Vineeth-Bengaluru FC: CK Vineeth was the hero for Bengaluru FC in the Federation Cup Final a few days back, scoring 2 goals in extra-time. Even though Vineeth is yet to score in the AFC Cup for the Blues and hasn’t been that impactful this season, he showed immense stamina and tenacity to play 120 minutes of gruelling football and come up with the goods for Bengaluru in their Fed Cup Final win. Vineeth is expected to lead the line for Bengaluru who are without Udanta Singh and Sunil Chetrri and the Blues will depend on him to come up with the goods yet again as they need to score to win this game and will need Vineeth to showcase his impeccable goal-scoring form once again tomorrow.
Aleksander Rakic-Maziya S&RC: Maziya S&RC have proved themselves to be a dangerous attacking unit in the AFC Cup this season and Aleksander Rakic has been at the root of every attacking move for the Maldivian club. Rakic was slow to start off but has been exceptional in the past few games as he played a big part in Maziya’s away win against Mohun Bagan. He also scored a brace in the reverse fixture where Maziya won 5-2, as well as scoring in their recent triumph over Abahani Limited Dhaka. He has the trickery and speed to his game and will be a nightmare for Bengaluru’s defenders, who need to be wary of his treat or else he can absolutely rip them apart.
Bengaluru FC: Amrinder, Jhingan, Juanan, Johnson, Nishu, Khabra, Watson, Lenny, Alwyn, Chhetri, Vineeth.
Maziya S&RC: Matiash, Samooh, Ali, Cordos, Kovacevic, Habeeb, Umair, Irufaan, Ali, Rakic, Abdulla.