Bengaluru FC continues their quest for Asian Glory against FC Istiklol Dushanbe of Tajikistan in the AFC Cup Zonal Final tomorrow. The first leg will take place at the 24000 seaters Hisor Central Stadium.
The Blues are coming into this virtual Semi-final at the back of a hard-fought 0-0 draw in North Korea against April 25 SC.
Alberto Roca will have a full-strength squad at his disposal. It will be interesting to see the starting Xl as they went unchanged for both legs in the Zonal Semi-Final.
FC Istiklol is in top form at the moment and is unbeaten this season both domestically and in Asia. They have already wrapped up the League Title, being unbeaten with 5 matches still to be played and have won 6 of their last 8 AFC Cup games, drawing the other two.
The Tajik giants are in the free-scoring mode, having scored 20 goals so far in the tournament. They thrashed Ceres-Negros 5-1 to set up a clash with Bengaluru FC. Forward Manuchekhr Dzhalilov is in lethal form with 7 goals to his name. He is also the top scorer in the domestic league. The 26-year-old played in the 2007 U17 world cup and has 21 senior caps.
However, Bengaluru will have their job significantly cut out as Istiklal will miss the services of three of their regular starters due to suspensions. Midfielder David Mawutor, attacking midfielder Amirbek Juraboev and Ukrainian defender Artem Baranovskyi are the absentees.
But Roca has made his intentions clear of not underestimating the weakened side as he believes they still have the quality to produce results.
At this stage, last season Bengaluru FC drew 1-1 away against JDT before winning on aggregate at home.
They will be looking to repeat the same feat and will hope to go one step ahead to become the first Indian club to win the continental competition. Istiklol Dushanbe were runners-up in the 2015 AFC Cup and BFC will be wary of that.
Bengaluru FC will become first Indian club to play two AFC Cup finals if they manage to win two legs affairs against FC Istiklol.
The match will kick off at 7 PM IST and will be live on the AFC Hub Facebook Page.
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