Bengaluru: High on confidence after making it to the final of the Indian Super League in their first season, Bengaluru FC will look to begin their AFC Cup group stage campaign on a high note with a win over Abahani Dhaka Limited here on Wednesday.
Bengaluru go into the match with their tails up after an enthralling 3-1 win over FC Pune City in the second leg of the Indian Super League on March 11 here.
The Blues are in the Group Stage for a record fourth season running and have matched East Bengal’s (2010-13) run of most consecutive appearances for an Indian club in the competition.
Bengaluru made it to the group stage after routing T C Sports of Maldives 5-0 in the second leg of the play-off stage here on February 21 with a splendid hat-trick by Toni Dovale.
Abahani, who qualified for this season’s AFC Cup by winning the 2017-18 Bangladesh Premier League, began their Group Stage campaign with a narrow 0-1 home loss to New Radiant SC a week back. The Sky Blue Brigade will be missing services of Nigerian striker Sunday Chizoba Nwadialu who was sent off in the opener. In their top-scorer’s absence, the visitors’ frontline will be led by fellow Nigerian Emeka Onuoha along with Japanese medio Seija Kojima.
This is not the first time Bengaluru are facing Abahani. They met last April here when Bengaluru had emerged 2-0 winners, riding on Nishu Kumar and Marjan Jugovic’s goals, while BFC suffered a reverse away in Bangladesh.
With the grand final of the Indian Super League set to take place on Saturday, head coach Albert Roca is expected to field a similar starting XI from the qualifiers where youngsters got a look in.