2/12/2018 8:35:58 PM (GMT+3)

Bengaluru meet Maldive's TC Sports Club in AFC Cup tomorrow

Bengaluru meet Maldive

Male, Maldives: Albert Roca said he expects nothing short of a stern test when Bengaluru FC take on Maldive's TC Sports Club in the AFC Cup Preliminary Stage first leg here on Tuesday.

The Blues became the first side to secure a play-off berth in the Indian Super League, but the Spanish manager said it would count for nothing when they attempt to take an important step to make it to the group stages of a competition Bengaluru has enjoyed relative success in.

“The game against TC Sports Club is going to be a tougher challenge than the one we faced in Bhutan. They have made it to this stage on the back of two good games against the team from Bangladesh. Their confidence along with being comfortable with the humid weather that we aren’t used to, makes the challenge bigger," said Roca.

The Maldives sides rode on an Anatoliy Vlasichev hat-trick at home to get past Bangladeshi side Saif 4-1 on aggregate and book a date with Bengaluru. They will however be without first-choice goalkeeper Dmitry Asnin who, with an injured hand, is expected to be out for long.

Staying consistent with his policy of rotating the squad and handing players rest, Roca has made the trip without names like Sunil Chhetri, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Juanan Gonzalez and Dimas Delgado among others.

“It’s something (rotating) we’ve been doing often and it works for us more often than not because we have a hungry squad that is willing to grab the chances it gets. Yes, we have qualified for the play-off stages in the ISL, but it’s important to keep our winning momentum going and we play a tough side in FC Pune City on February 16,” he added.

The kick off is at 9.30 pm IST and the reverse leg of the fixture will be played at the Kanteerava Stadium on February 20.