Bengaluru look to shrug off empty stadium issue in AFC Cup quarters

Bengaluru, Sep 13 (IANS) I-League champions Bengaluru FC will surely miss their passionate home crowd but will look to maximise their home advantage against Singapore’s Tampines Rovers in the first leg of the AFC Cup quarter-final here on Wednesday.

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup match will be held at the Kanteerava Stadium, a statement from the club said.

Owing to the tense political situation in the city over the last two days, the AFC had to resign the tie to a behind-closed-doors affair.

Security concerns have also forced the AFC to bring forth the kick-off time of the game to 4 p.m.

BFC coach Albert Roca, for whom this will be his first game in charge since taking over the reins, expressed disappointment at the prospect of playing a home fixture behind closed doors but said the team would do everything to make sure it isn’t a disadvantage.

“It’s a real shame to not have our supporters in the stands tomorrow but these are circumstances that we have to accept now. All we can say at this moment is that we’re going to look to put in a good performance in a bid to get the best result. It’s been three and a half months without competition and the boys were keen to show where we are trying to get to. We just have to move on and give this our best,” Roca said in the statement.

Tampines, who arrived in the city on Monday, come into the tie with the luxury of having played competitive games regularly in the Singapore League.

Bengaluru, meanwhile, have had to contend with four practice games as a build-up to the game.

The Spanish coach though, while admitting he would have liked more competitive fixtures as a precursor to the game, refused to use it as an excuse. “I can’t change the circumstances. I would have loved to play 20 friendly games and 20 competitive ones but that isn’t possible. This is our chance to take a big step ahead in the tournament and we will give it everything we have,” he said.

Bengaluru have added to their squad this summer by roping in midfielders Cameron Watson and Alvaro Rubio along with defender Juanan Gonzalez. Roca is confident that the new signings will bring much to the big game. The Spaniard also revealed that injured winger Udanta Singh has recovered and could have a role.

On the injury front, Tampines will be without striker Farzul Nawaz who has been forced out with a long-term injury but have ample quality in Billy Mehmet, Jordan Webb and former Arsenal and Liverpool winger Jermaine Pennant.

–IANS

dm/sam/bg

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