Bengaluru: Bengaluru FC have named a 30-man squad for the coming preliminary and playoff stages of 2018 AFC Cup.
On Sunday the team left for Thimphu, Bhutan, where they face Transport United on January 23.
The qualifying stage squad consists of as many as seven young players from the BFC ‘B’ setup and making the cut are Asheer Akhtar, Myron Mendes, Cletus Paul, Robinson Singh Khumukcham and Bidyananda Singh.
“With the competition rules, we can only play four foreigners so that provides a good opportunity for all our Indian boys, especially youngsters to rise to the occasion,” BFC head coach Albert Roca said ahead of the team’s departure.
“Our ‘B’ team players have been working hard, and that’s why they have been brought into the squad and I hope they will respond to the occasion,” he added.
Joining them are BFC Academy Graduates Leon Augustine and Prashanth Kalinga, who were also part of the 2017 AFC Cup squad and along with Robinson, travelled with the first team to Spain for the pre-season.
Among the foreigners, Erik Paartalu fills the Asian quota as Juanan Gonzalez, Dimas Delgado and Toni Dovale complete the four-man lineup.
The Blues, who fell short of making it to their second successive final in one of the biggest competitions in Asian football, are eager to imrpove on their performance this season after booking a place in the competition courtesy of the Federation Cup win in May 2017.
However, Bengaluru, who finished as the South Zone toppers in 2017, will have to go through the two-stage qualifying phase to make it to the group stage this year.
Up against Bhutan National League 2017 champions in the first leg of preliminary round on January 23, the Blues will host the second leg here on January 30.
If they make it to the playoff stage, Bengaluru will be up against the winner of the second preliminary round tie in the South zone between Bangladesh’s Saif Sporting Club and TC Sports Club from Maldives.
The winner of the two-legged playoff, scheduled on February 13 and 20, will grab the fourth spot in South zone of the AFC Cup Group stages.
Goalkeepers: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Lalthuammawia Ralte, Abhra Mondal, Calvin Abhishek
Defenders: Zohmingliana Ralte, Juanan Gonzalez, Joyner Lourenco, Asheer Akhtar, Rahul Bheke, Collin Abranches, Harmanjot Khabra, Prashanth Kalinga, Nishu Kumar, Subhasish Bose
Midfielders: Erik Paartalu, Dimas Delgado, Lenny Rodrigues, Malsawmzuala, Leon Augustine, Robinson Singh Khumukcham, Bidyananda Singh, Myron Mendes, Boithang Haokip, Alwyn George
Forwards: Sunil Chhetri, Udanta Singh, Daniel Lalhlimpuia. Toni Dovale, Cletus Paul, Thongkhosiem Haokip