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AFC Cup 2017 Preview: Abahani Limited vs Bengaluru FC: Blues look to solidify top spot in Dhaka

Goal.com logo Goal.com 02-05-2017

The race for qualifying out of 2017 AFC Cup Group E gathers pace as Bengaluru FC [India] pay a visit to Abahani Limited Dhaka [Bangladesh] at the Bangabandhu Stadium on Dhaka on Wednesday.

Three points for the visitors could go a long way in securing progression in this matchday four fixture, but Abahani without a single point on board and doors closed will look to play for pride.

Abahani have had a torrid time in Asia's second-tier club competition so far. Three back-to-back defeats embody the personnel problem head coach Drago Mamic had at the beginning of the season where six players left the club to join rivals Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi.

Furthermore, the failure of their Ghanaian defender Samad Yussif to procure an Indian visa meant that he missed out on both trips to Bengaluru and Kolkata last month. Although they have added Gambian midfielder Landing Darboe on transfer deadline day, he remains ineligible for the AFC Cup due to registrational hindrances.

In a more interesting case developing at the club, former Welsh U21 player Jonathan Brown has been left out of their roster to play in the Bangladesh Premier League and has had his contract revised for only the remaining three AFC Cup games.

Midfielder Emon Babu has recovered from an injury he sustained two months ago and will be raring to take up a spot in midfield. However, the misfiring Emeka Darlington will be a cause for concern for the Sky Blues.

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Bengaluru FC will be riding high on confidence and they look a settled unit, recovering from their eight-game winless run earlier this season. A fourth-placed finish in the I-League has been topped up by the tantalising display by their youngsters in the last couple of league games.

Albert Roca now seems determined to win all the remaining games and also keep clean sheets, which they have done in their last six games in both competitions.

"It’s always difficult to win away. Now in football, the distance between the teams is not so big. We have to be ready for that. Our expectation in this tournament is very high because we reached the final last year. [Wednesday] is an important game. If we win [Wednesday] we have the possibility to shift to the next stage. It will be a completely a different game than the one in Bangalore," the former FC Barcelona assistant said on the eve of the game.

Having rested the likes of Amrinder Singh, John Johnson, Cameron Watson and Sunil Chhetri on Saturday in their last I-League game, the Southern Eagles will be raring to go out all guns blazing in the Bangladesh capital

Kick-off is at 5:40 PM IST (6:10 PM Local time)

PREDICTED LINE-UPS

ABAHANI LIMITED TEAM NEWS

Injured: None

Suspended: None

Ineligible: Landing Darboe

Key Players: Jonathan Brown, Emeka Darlington

BENGALURU FC TEAM NEWS

Injured: Rino Anto, Lalchhuanmawia Fanai

Suspended: None

Ineligible: Cornell Glenn

Key Players: Sunil Chhetri, John Johnson

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