Bengaluru eye qualification in crucial AFC Cup game

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Bengaluru, May 30 (IANS) Hot on the heels of their Federation Cup triumph in Cuttack, an upbeat Bengaluru FC will be eyeing qualification to the next round when they take on Maziya Sports & Recreation in a Group E AFC Cup tie at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium here on Wednesday.

Bengaluru, who beat Mohun Bagan to win their second Federation Cup title, need to win against Maldives’ Maziya to have a shot at the round of 16.

Bengaluru became the first Indian team to reach the final of the same competition last time and would be eager to repeat their performance this time around as well.

Maziya are on 12 points already, with Bengaluru on nine, but the advantage Bengaluru have despite their poor goal difference (six scored and six conceded) is that the first differentiating factor will be the head-to-head record between the two teams.

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When the two teams met in Male on April 4, a John Johnson winner in injury time had given Bengaluru a 1-0 away win.

C.K. Vineeth whose double helped Bengaluru win the Fed Cup will be the cynosure of all eyes. The Kerala lad has been in hot form in front of goal and without the likes of skipper Sunil Chhetri and promising youngster Udanta Singh — both of whom are injured — a lot of responsibility will lie on the former United SC striker.

Cameron Watson missed the Fed Cup final through suspension, but should return to partner Euguenson Lyngdoh at the centre of midfield.

Coming to the away side, Maziya are the reigning league champions of Maldives, and have lived up to that billing by logging four wins in their first five matches of the AFC Cup group thus far.

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They have beaten Mohun Bagan twice. Striker Mohamed Umair has been outstanding throughout the group stages and is a constant threat to opposition defenders.

Maziya just need a draw to qualify as one team makes it to the next round.



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