Bengaluru FC on Wednesday announced their 25-member squad for the AFC Cup knockout rounds as Albert Roca’s men prepare to take on North Korean side April 25 SC here in a week’s time.
The new-look squad saw as many as 14 new faces following the Indian Super League draft, and features two graduates from the Blues’ residential youth academy in Bellary.
Australian midfielder Erik Paartalu, along with Spaniards Toni Dovale and Dimas Delgado, joined defender Juanan Gonzalez to make up the Blues’ foreign contingent for the knockout rounds and Roca believes his side is ready for the task ahead.
“We’ve had very little time to prepare but the trip to Spain has been good exposure for the boys. We’ve tested ourselves against good opposition and this is the squad that we’ve been able to put together.
“We have a week more to prepare and I believe the boys will be ready for the challenge,” said Roca.
However, defensive mainstay John Johnson is set to miss the rest of the Blues’ AFC Cup campaign owing to personal commitments.
The Englishman had joined the Blues for pre-season in Spain and though his absence in the 2017 AFC Cup will be a blow, Roca believes that his players will step up to the occasion.
“Johnson’s absence is a massive blow for us, but we are aware of his situation and it was the right decision to make for us to let him be at home. It is unfortunate for us, but his return for the club’s ISL campaign will be a boost,” he added.
The squad also features BFC academy graduates Leon Augustine and Prashanth Kalinga, who impressed Roca in pre- season with the club, as they took on FC Cartagena, UCAM Murcia CF and Baniyas Club.
The first leg of the Blues’ Inter Zonal semifinal against April 25 SC is set to kick off at the Kanteerava Stadium on August 23rd with the return leg slated to played at the May Day Stadium, in Pyongyang, on September 13th.