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AFC Cup, preview: Bengaluru FC look to stretch lead as New Radiant keep chase going

By Aravind
Bengaluru FC midfielder Malsawmzuala trains in Thulusdhoo, Maldives, on Tuesday

Male (Maldives), April 24: Bengaluru FC will look to keep their flawless record in Maldives intact, when they take on New Radiant SC in a Group E fixture of the AFC Cup at the National Stadium, in Male, on Wednesday (April 25). The Blues are yet to drop points against a team from the island country across three years of continental competition and Albert Roca will hope the habit continues.

Bengaluru, however, will be without their Spanish manager on the touchline as Roca is serving his one-game suspension after he was sent off during the home leg of the same fixture. Goalkeeping coach Eduardo Gasol will be the man in charge as Bengaluru look to widen the gap atop the points table and edge closer to yet another place in the knock-out stages of the competition.

Gasol was confident but cautious at the same time, admitting that the Indian Super Cup champions won't have it easy. "We do have a good record against teams from Maldives away from home, but most of the games have been close. Against TC Sports Club we came away with a narrow 3-2 win, even against Maziya the season before, we scored in the final minute. Tomorrow is going to be tough and we are sure of that," said Gasol.

Bengaluru FC skipper Sunil Chhetri trains in Thulusdhoo, Maldives, on Tuesday

Even against New Radiant at the Kanteerava, it needed a last-minute winner from Nishu Kumar to give the Blues all points and Gasol said the task away from home would only be more difficult against Oscar Bruzon's side. "They are a good team who looked like putting us in trouble a few times and they will only be more confident at home. We will have to be alert at all times."

The Blues come into this fixture on the back of a fantastic showing in the Super Cup and will hope that the momentum doesn't drop. The attack turned up with 13 goals in four games while the defence let only five slip past them as Bengaluru stayed true to tradition of winning a trophy in every season since its inception.

With three wins in as many games, Bengaluru lead Group E with nine points and have New Radiant chasing, with six points from three games. Roca has relied on his youngsters to get the job done in the AFC Cup this season, but with the Indian Super League and Super Cup behind them, the Spaniard could be tempted to throw in a few big names in the mix. "Everyone is up for selection and like always, the coach along with the staff will sit and decide what the best XI would be for the game against New Radiant," said Gasol.

The game kicks off at 4.30 pm IST.

Source: BFC Media

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Story first published: Tuesday, April 24, 2018, 19:52 [IST]
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