Former Indian Super League (ISL) and I-League champions, Bengaluru FC will hope to begin their season on a positive note when they face Club Eagles of Maldives in a play-off match of the AFC Cup 2021. The Sunil Chhetri-led side had scored an emphatic 5-0 victory over Nepal's Tribhuvan Army in the preliminary round in April while Club Eagles had beaten Bhutan's Thimphu FC 2-0. And now, Bengaluru have a must-win match on India's Independence Day. (More Football News)
Besides mercurial Chhetri leading the charge, Bengaluru head coach Marco Pezzoli can also rely on new signings Rohit Kumar, Harmanpreet Singh, Bidyashagar Khangembam, Jayesh Rane, Danish Farooq, and Sarthak Golui. Bengaluru, which finished at a lowly seventh in the Indian Super League, have thrived in the AFC Cup, having finished runners-up in 2016 and making the Inter-Zonal final in 2017 and the semi-finals a year later. Certainly the 75th Independence Day can give Bengaluru FC the necessary motivation to go for the win.
Club Eagles will go into the tie without Ahmed Rizwan with head coach Mohamed Shazly confirming to local media that the striker is still recovering from an injury. The home side, however, won't be lacking in experience with the likes of Ali Ashfaq, Akram Abdul Ghanee, Ali Fasir, Mohamed Arif, Ismail Easa, Ahmed Hassan and Mohamed Faisal available for the match.
What's at stake
The winners of the playoff, initially scheduled to be played in May but postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will advance to Group D, which already has another Indian side ATK Mohun Bagan, Bashundhara Kings of Bangladesh and Maiziya Sports & Recreation of Maldives. Group stage kicks off in Male on Wednesday. The winners will play ATK Mohun Bagan in their opening clash with Bashundhara Kings to face Maziya Sports & Recreation.
The Group D winners will advance to the Inter-Zone semi-finals against either FC Nasaf of Uzbekistan or FC Ahal of Turkmenistan from the Central Zone.
Match and telecast details
Match: 2021 AFC Cup playoff between Bengaluru FC and Club Eagles.
Date: August 15 (Sunday), 2021
Time: 8.30 PM IST
Venue: National Stadium, Male, Maldives
Live updates can be followed on the clubs' respective social media pages.
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 Inayath, Ajay Chhetri; Forwards - Sunil Chhetri, Udanta Kumam, Cleiton Silva, Leon Augustine, Naorem Roshan, Bidyashagar Khangembam, Sivasakthi Narayanan, Akashdeep Singh, Harmanpreet Singh.
Goalkeepers - Mohamed Sinnahu, Mohammad Taha; Defenders – Haisham Hassan, Humaid Hussain, Ahmed Numaan, Elsayed Mahmoud, Hussian Sifaau, Hisam Saleem; Midfielders - Areen Abdulla Ibrahim, Ali Solah, Ahmed Samah, Zain Zafar, Hassan Aleef Ibrahim, Mohamed Aflaam Ali, Hussain Ahusam Moosa, Hamdhann Abdul Sattar, Shaifulla Ibrahim, Mossa Abdulla Sameeh, Mohamed Nain, Hassan Raid Ahmed, Imran Nasheed; Forwards - Riham Abdul Ghanee, Ahmed Rizuvan, Ashadh Ali Mohamed Osama Saber Elshihy.