Club Eagles will await Bengaluru FC today as they look to qualify into the group stages of the AFC Cup. Despite extensive deliberation and postponement, the AFC Cup matches are finally taking place in the Maldives thanks to the cooperation of the Maldives FA. As India celebrates its Independence Day today, Bengaluru FC couldn’t have asked for a better day possibly to represent the nation and make us proud.
Bengaluru had a comparatively poor ISL season this time around, leading them to sack Carles Cuadrat mid-season and appoint Marco Pezzaiuoli. The German left his job as technical director of Bundesliga club Eintracht Frankfurt to join the Blues ahead of their AFC Cup Qualifiers. Bengaluru’s first game under Marco was their preliminary qualification game against Nepal Army and they won 5-0 on the back of braces from Rahul Bheke and Cleiton Silva. It was a frustrating game at times, with Bengaluru creating a lot but lacking in the final third. It wasn’t until the second half that Rahul Bheke scored from a set-piece that the floodgates finally opened. However, with a couple of new recruits and a stronger squad, Bengaluru this time around will look to dominate the game right from the start and be clinical in front of the goal in order to deny the opponents of any breathing space.
Club Eagles finished fourth in the eight-team Dhivehi Premier League this year. The team faced Thimphu City FC in their preliminary round and defeated them easily by a margin of 2-0. They were scheduled to face Abahani Dhaka in the second round of the qualifiers, but the latter had pulled out resulting in the Eagles getting a direct spot in today’s knock-out fixture.
A three-man foreign contingent has been selected by Bengaluru for its trip to the Maldives. In wake of the contractual dispute surrounding Erik Paartalu, the team had to give up one foreign spot after failing to land an Asian foreigner in time. Musava King, Cleiton Silva, and new hire Alan Costa will make up Bengaluru’s foreign department. The 29-member squad also features four reserve team players promoted to the first-team squad, namely goalkeeper Sharon P, Muhammad Inayath, Akashdeep Singh, and Sivasakthi. The team’s six new signings, Jayesh Rane, Rohit Kumar, Bidyasagar Singh, Sarthak Golui, Harmanpreet Singh, and Danish Farooq, are also in the Maldives.
Club Eagles will meanwhile be having two foreigners in their squad namely goalkeeper Mohammad Taha and defender El Shayed Mahmoud. Mohammad Naim is one of their standout players, and the Bengaluru defenders must keep an eye on him.
Bengaluru FC: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Sarthak Golui, Musava King, Alan Costa, Udanta Singh, Ashique Kuruniyan, Rohit Kumar, Jayesh Rane, Suresh Wangjam, Cleiton Silva, Sunil Chhetri
Club Eagles: Mohammad Taha, Abdulla Moosa, Ahmed Numan, H Yusoof, Abdelfattah, Haisham Hassan, I Nasheed, H Ahmed, H Saleem, M Naim, Mohammad Elshihy
Bengaluru FC will be facing a tough challenge against Club Eagles tonight. Bengaluru’s midfield, with multiple newcomers expected to start, might be a point of concern. Newly signed Sarthak Golui and Alan Costa will form the Bengaluru defense, and their understanding with Musava King and each other will be crucial if they are to stop the Eagles forwards from scoring. Ultimately, the performance of their new signings is expected to determine the outcome of the match tonight.
Meanwhile, the Maldives club will be eager to take advantage of the home conditions and win on their own soil to reach the group stages of their maiden AFC Cup competition.
Match Date -15th August 2021 (Sunday)
Time – 20:30 IST
Venue – National Stadium, Male, Maldives
How to watch-: No Television Telecast
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