With An Eye On Summit Clash, Roca Hints At Resting Squad In AFC Cup Fixture; Johnson, Khabra To Miss Out With Suspension
In what will be a precursor of the Federation Cup final, a rested Bengaluru FC side will take on Mohun Bagan in a Group E game of the AFC Cup at the Rabindra Sarobar Stadium, in Kolkata, on Wednesday. While both Bengaluru and Maziya S&RC are level on points 9 points from 4 games, Albert Roca’s side continue to lead the group owing to a better head-to-head record over the team from the Maldives who host Abahani Dhaka Limited in the group’s earlier kick-off.
With the battle for who makes it out of the group set to go down to the last round where Bengaluru host Maziya on May 31, Roca chose to hand a fair number of players some much needed rest. “This will be our fifth game in 8 days and it’s a situation we have to manage. The heat in Cuttack has taken a lot out of the squad and it was only fair that some of the boys get time to recover before the final.Wednesday’s AFC Cup game is a great chance for the other boys on the squad who have been thorough professionals and have put their hand up whenever the team has needed them,” said Roca on the eve of the game.
While John Johnson and Harmanjot Khabra miss the fixture with suspensions, Cameron Watson hasn’t traveled after taking ill. Amrinder Singh and Juanan Gonzalez are among the other players who haven’t traveled. Skipper Sunil Chhetri has, meanwhile, made the trip back to Bengaluru to have his injury assessed by the club’s medical team.
Mohun Bagan are out of contention in the AFC Cup and given the Federation Cup final scheduled in four days from now, manager Sanjoy Sen too could hand his key players some much-needed rest.
“No matter what squad Mohun Bagan or we decide to go with, I have no illusions of this game being one where we can afford to take our foot off the pedal. The conditions will be tougher for us and I’m confident that the boys will make the most of the experience,” added Roca.
The Blues came back from a goal down to beat Bagan 2-1 in the home leg of this fixture and Roca has told his young side to draw inspiration from that night. “Bagan have always been tough competitors and both the clubs are always fighting for titles. The younger players on the team have a point to prove to me and I’m looking forward to a good show.”
The game kicks off at 7 pm.