Bengaluru FC had travelled well ahead of time to Thimpu to acclimatise with the conditions and the artificial turf.
AFC Cup 2020: Bengaluru FC edged out Bhutan’s Paro FC by a single goal in a 1-0 nail-biter during the second preliminary round of the Asian Football Confederation Cup held at the Changlimithang National Stadium in Thimphu on Wednesday. Semboi Haokip scored the solitary goal in a game that saw tempers flare when Kinley Wangchuk kicked the ball at Bengaluru FC’s Harmanjot Kabra who was down the turf following a tackle. The referee had to caution both players and the game continued. Sunil Chhetri’s introduction from the bench after the hour-mark saw some incisive attacking play from Bengaluru FC, but Paro FC managed to keep the deficit down to a single goal. The hosts’ attempts to equalise met with a solid Gurpreet Singh Sandhu in the goal.
The Indian Super League champions, Bengaluru FC, began the game as firm favourites having featured in the knockout rounds of the AFC Cup between 2015 and 2018. They missed out of the competition last year, and were looking to make amends this time around.
Carles Cuadrat’s side had gone into the tie with four wins out of five games in the ISL. Bengaluru FC had travelled well ahead of time to Thimphu to acclimatise with the conditions and the artificial turf.
Bengaluru FC’s tweet after the game showed that the victory courtesy a solitary away goal was a vital one.
— Bengaluru FC (@bengalurufc) February 5, 2020
For the preliminary stages of the AFC Cup, the Sunil Chhetri-captained side had named a young 30-man squad that consisted of nine players from the ‘B’ team. Johnson Singh Laishram, Sridarth Nongmeikapam and Emanuel Lalchhanchhuaha are the three Under-18 players who made the list.
The return leg will be played at Bengaluru’s Kanteerva Stadium on February 12, where Bengaluru FC will play with high spirits following the hard-fought win in Thimpu. In the main round of the AFC Cup 2020, the winner of the two-legged tie will be clubbed with current I-League champions Chennai City in Group E.