Bengaluru FC will look to end their AFC Cup campaign on a positive note when they take on Maldivian side Maziya S&RC at the National Stadium here on Tuesday.
Although both sides are out of the running for the knockout stages of the competition, there's much to play for with a win potentially lifting the Blues to second place in the group, while a defeat will mean a bottom-placed finish.
"It's true that Maziya have played two games and lost both, but we need to respect them as a team". We need to focus on our style and do our best against them.
"From the game against Tribhuvan Army FC in April to the one against Bashundhara Kings on Saturday, we have made several steps forward. Ours is a young team and we are looking to progress with each game we play," BFC coach Mario Pezzaiuoli said.
The Blues fell 2-0 to ATK Mohun Bagan in their opening group stage clash before a goalless draw against Bangladesh Premier League champions Bashundhara Kings on Saturday.
Despite the stalemate confirming their elimination from the tournament, Pezzaiuoli maintained that his side was eager to finish on a high. "In football it's not always about winning. Yes, we wanted to do well in the AFC Cup but it wasn't to be".
"It was tough to accept, but we trained this morning and I saw good team spirit and mentality from my players. We are eager to do well and finish on a good note against Maziya," the Italian added.
The Blues boss confirmed that winger Ashique Kuruniyan would continue to miss out, having suffered an ankle injury in their playoff clash against Club Eagles.
In a bid to give minutes to different players across positions, Pezzaiuoli handed debuts to summer signings Danish Farooq, Bidyashagar Singh, Rohit Kumar, Jayesh Rane, Alan Costa and Sarthak Golui in the first two group stage games.
Their B Team graduate Sivasakthi Narayanan also clocked his first minutes for the senior team.
Maziya, who began their AFC Cup group stage with a 2-0 loss to Bashundhara Kings, fell 3-1 to ATK Mohun Bagan on Saturday, confirming their elimination from the tournament.
The Blues have faced Maziya six times in the AFC Cup, winning on four occasions, and losing twice.