AFC Cup 2018: Albert Roca - I've got to rest some players before ISL final

Albert Roca is all set to field a second-string side in their opening Group E game on Wednesday....

Bengaluru FC kick-start their fourth successive AFC Cup group stage campaign in 2018 with a home game against Bangaldeshi side Abahani Limited Dhaka.

The game in sandwiched between the 2017-18 Indian Super League (ISL) semi-final second leg and the final, the latter being only two days after the continental match. "We have a situation where we play in a final two days after our AFC Cup game. It isn’t the most ideal scenario but it’s one we are going to have to deal with.

"It's a shame because the AFC Cup is a very important competition, but it's just one game before I go back to full strength in Asia. The players who haven’t got too many chances in the ISL have done really well in the AFC Cup and I am confident they will keep our unbeaten run going," said head coach Albert Roca ahead of the game.

"I am a professional, and what's important is to focus on the game. There is a final, yes, and it's on our mind, but Asia is very important to us and we will try to win. At the end of 90 minutes tomorrow, we shift focus to the ISL final but until then we're all very focused on this particular AFC Cup game."

He added, "It’s an honour to play in the AFC Cup for yet another season and our performances over the last two editions of the competition show how much we have grown in strength at the continental level. We have had to play four extra games to get here and now that the group stages begin, we need to make our efforts and consistency count.

"We've reached the semifinals, the final and it's important for the club to get there again, and go one step further. It's a target that the club has set, not just for itself but for all of Indian football."

His counterpart Saiful Bari Titu remained cautious on the upcoming challenge, especially on the back of a 1-0 loss to New Radiant SC in the opening round. 

"Bengaluru will be a very difficult side but we will try to improve our performance. We don't want to give space and allow the opposition to come in like we did against New Radiant. Abahani beat Bengaluru in Dhaka during the last edition, so if we can give our best and make less number of mistakes, it is possible to secure points against them," he concluded.