After Slow Start, Blues Keen On Getting AFC Cup Campaign On Track; Vineeth, Osano Return To Squad
Bengaluru FC will look to pick up their first points in Group H of the AFC Cup when they take on Ayeyawady United at the Youth Training Centre in Yangon, Myanmar on Wednesday. Ashley Westwood’s side arrived in the former capital on Monday with temperatures hovering around the 40 degree mark and have their task cut out against the Cup champions of Myanmar.
The Blues played defending champions Johor Darul Ta’zim last week in Bengaluru and were unlucky to come away without a point after the Malaysian team needed a debatable freekick to quell what was a brave challenge from a relatively young Bengaluru side. Ayeyawady meanwhile bounced back from an 8-1 campaign opening defeat to Johor with a 4-2 victory over Lao Toyota.
Hit with a slew of injuries, Ashley Westwood has constantly had to shuffle his side to deal with a packed domestic calendar and Asian competition and it will be interesting to see what team the Englishman rolls out on Wednesday. Curtis Osano and CK Vineeth, who missed the Blues’ last two games with groin strains, have made the trip while skipper Sunil Chhetri, who had no part to play in the defeat to Johor, could be in contention to make the starting XI.
Johor with two wins in as many games lead Group H with 6 points followed by Ayeyawady and Lao with 3 points each while Bengaluru lie at the bottom with a chance to climb up on Wednesday.
Ayeyawady will be relying on their Nigerian striker Christopher Chizoba who notched up a hat-trick in the win over Lao. Chizoba, interestingly, has an India connection of sorts having turned out for Kolkata side Mohun Bagan. He also had stints at Kalighat MS, Mohammedan Sporting, Shillong Lajong and Lonestar Kashmir FC.
Bengaluru, however, will not have too much to worry about at the back should they be able to churn out the defensive performance like the one they rolled out against Johor. Young Salam Ranjan Singh was composed alongside John Johnson while Keegan Pereira, Lalchhuanmawia and Rino Anto refused to let anything slip by between them.
Vineeth’s return should also boost the Blues’ attack should Westwood decide to play him. The quick striker has five goals for the Blues in all competitions and was on target in the loss against Lao Toyota. Udanta Singh, meanwhile, has been improving with every game and could play a pivotal part in Bengaluru’s scheme of things on Wednesday.
The game kicks off at 3 pm IST.