Bengaluru FC, who are set to play against local side Eagles FC on May 11 in their AFC Cup play-offs, landed in Male, Maldives, on Friday. If they win the upcoming match, the Blues will join ISL club ATK-Mohun Bagan, Maziya FC (Maldives) and Basundhara Kings (Bangladesh) in Group D of the qualifiers.
The Maldives government had insisted on not hosting the AFC Cup group stages matches in the island nation, owing to the rise in the number of Covid-19 cases. However, the AFC (Asian Football Confederation) paid no heed to the request and wanted to organise the matches as per schedule.
While ATK-Mohun Bagan is already slotted in Group D, along with the likes of Maziya FC (Maldives), Basundhara Kings (Bangladesh), the fourth spot is to be decided by the playoff between ISL side Bengaluru FC and Eagles FC (Maldives). Bengaluru FC, led by Indian football legend Sunil Chhetri, set to take on Eagles FC on May 11, arrived in Male, on Friday, amid the deadly second Covid-19 wave back in India.
Bengaluru FC rolled over Nepal’s Tribhuvan Army FC 5-0 in the preliminary playoff match in Goa, on April 16 and are also favourites to edge past Eagles FC and make their way into the group stages. However, their German coach Marco Pezzaiuoli is focused on developing the team ahead of the ISL, looking at the AFC Cup campaign as a pre-season.
“We prepare for what we want to develop. Of course, the focus is on the match (in the Maldives) but I want to see a better team for the new (ISL) season. Now for me, it’s like a pre-season, and I will take every minute with the team," said Marco Pezzaiuoli.