Abahani have already seen the exit door but Bengaluru's hope of qualifying for the second round will depend on Maldives' champion New Radiant's result away to Aizawl
A downbeat Abahani Limited will look to conclude their AFC Cup 2018 campaign on a positive note when the Bangladesh Premier League champion host Indian League giant Bengaluru Football Club in the last match of Group E at Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka Wednesday at 7:15pm.
Abahani have already seen the exit door but Bengaluru's hope of qualifying for the second round will depend on Maldives' champion New Radiant FC's result away to Aizawl FC. With that said, Bengaluru have to seal the three points first in order for them to have any chance of advancing to the next stage.
Abahani conceded a narrow 1-0 defeat in the first leg and despite the fact that the Bangladesh champion defeated the same side 2-0 in the last edition, the situation is different for the Sky Blues at the moment.
Abahani head coach Saiful Bari Titu still remembers the memories of his side's devastating 5-1 loss away to Maldives and at the end of the pre-match press conference Tuesday, he said, "I don't want to lose the game badly again."
Abahani will miss the service of their two key foreign recruits. Nigerian striker Sunday Chizoba and defender Alison Udoka have been ruled out of the game due to suspension, along with midfielder Atiqur Rahman Fahad. Titu hinted that young defender Tutul Hossain Badshah and winger Rubel Mia are likely to replace the Nigerian duo in the starting XI.
"Nothing to say much, rather, we have to do something on the pitch. All our chances have gone after the fifth match following which, personally, I got very disappointed. I still can't accept it. It's difficult to turn around from such a situation," said Titu, before adding that mindset and tactical changes would be very important in this game.
Bengaluru's Spanish coach Albert Roca looked a bit tensed at the presser. He said, "Difficult game [Wednesday]. We would just like to qualify. It wouldn't be easy as we lost here (in) our (previous) game. It's a challenge. It's only one game and we have to do everything to win."
New Radiant and Bengaluru both have 12 points each from five matches so far. New Radiant however, are leading the table courtesy better goal difference. Bottom-placed Aizawl, who lost 5-0 to Bengaluru in the last game, will host Radiant and a win for the visiting side would ensure the Maldives side's berth in the knockout stage due to their head-to-head record with Bengaluru. Abahani are third with a win and a draw.
Wednesday's encounter would be the last game for Titu in Abahani colours as the head coach was hired for only the AFC Cup, in February this year. "I have spent some good times at Abahani but the results were not good for me, for which, I want to take full responsibility. I would be happy if we could finish the campaign on a high note."