After a 2-0 defeat to ATK Mohun Bagan in their opener, Bengaluru FC will take on Bangladeshi side Bashundhara Kings in their second Group D match of the AFC Cup 2021 at the National Football Stadium in Malé, Maldives on Saturday.
It is a must-win match for Bengaluru FC, who looked largely off-colour against fellow Indian club ATK Mohun Bagan in the afternoon game on Wednesday.
Although Brazilian striker Cleiton Silva had a few shots at goal, Bengaluru FC talisman Sunil Chhetri was hardly a factor in the match, and was substituted in the 72nd minute.
Bengaluru FC will need a much better showing against Bashundhara Kings, who defeated Maldivian side Maziya Sports and Recreation Club by a 2-0 margin on Wednesday. There was an own goal by Mohamed Irufaan after which Robinho scored in the 40th minute.
BFC will have to be wary of Robinho. On loan from Fluminese, the Brazilian winger has scored 22 times and laid out nine assists in just 26 appearances for Bashundhara Kings.
The Bengaluru FC defence had allowed ATK Mohun Bagan’s Roy Krishna, Subhasish Bose and Hugo Boumous too much space on Wednesday and a similar performance will surely hurt the Blues against the reigning Bangladesh Premier League champions.
“We probably will need to handle this better, maybe change the tactics looking at how we played in the last two games with little chances created despite plenty of possession,” said Bengaluru FC head coach Marco Pezzaiuoli.
“Bashundhara won their first game 2-0 and have a strong defence but can be dangerous especially between transitions. They’re a very organised side and we cannot afford to give them space to score goals.”
Meanwhile, Bashundhara Kings head coach Óscar Bruzón said that they are not underestimating BFC.
“We feel that Bengaluru are going to play an open game with a high pressing defensive line to counter our style,” Bruzón said. “It’s not how we are going to start but we know it’s going to be a very long 90 minutes of football. We will need to manage our emotions, frustrate them into making mistakes to win the game.
“One should not underestimate Bengaluru. They are very dangerous - especially with the likes of Sunil Chhetri, Cleiton Silva, Suresh Singh Wangjam and two strong centre-backs. However, I feel they are not 100 percent in terms of performance levels and that uncertainty in midfield is why they lost to ATK Mohun Bagan.”
Another defeat or a draw will see Bengaluru FC knocked out of the competition. The winner of the group will progress to the inter-zone semi-finals.
Where to watch Bengaluru FC vs Bashundhara Kings live?
The Bengaluru FC vs Bashundhara Kings AFC Cup 2021 Group D match will start at 4.30 PM IST and will be telecast live on the Star Sports 2, Star Sports 2 HD, Star Sports 3 in India. Star Sports 1 Hindi and Star Sports 1 HD Hindi will run regional coverage.
Live streaming of the Bengaluru FC vs Bashundhara Kings AFC Cup Group D match in India will be available on Disney+ Hotstar.
Bengaluru FC AFC Cup 2021 squad
Goalkeepers: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Lalthuammawia Ralte, Lara Sharma, Sharon Padattil
Defenders: Pratik Chaudhari, Wungngayam Muirang, Ajith Kumar, Ashique Kuruniyan, Parag Shrivas, Yrondu Musavu-King, Biswa Darjee, Alan Costa, Sarthak Golui
Midfielders: Suresh Wangjam, Namgyal Bhutia, Jayesh Rane, Danish Farooq, Rohit Kumar, Muhammad Inayat, Ajay Chhetri
Forwards: Sunil Chhetri, Udanta Singh, Cleiton Silva, Leon Augustine, Naorem Roshan Singh, Bidyashagar Singh, Sivasakthi Narayanan, Akashdeep Singh, Harmanpreet Singh