National champions Transport United’s squad that played AFC Cup championship for the first time held the former runners up and the Indian Super league table toppers, Bengaluru FC, to a goalless draw at Changlingmithang stadium in Thimphu yesterday.
Transport United used side flanks to find scoring chances from the crosses and posed threat in the attacking line with several counter attacks. However, the chances to find the back of the net could not be converted as Transport United played a lone striker in the attacking front.
The best scoring chance came to Transport United in the 38th minute when Choki Wangchuk, who was named man of the match from his team, closely found Kencho Tobgay in the penalty area with his cross. However, the striker’s effort to tap in the ball finished few inches away from the goal post.
Bengaluru’s mid fielder from Spain, Antonio Dovale posed threat to Transport United defender with his strong hold in the midfield and tried long distance attempts to score but it ended off the bar. He was the man of the match.
Bengaluru coach Albert Roca said that his team could create better chances in the second half. “Transport United’s backline played a comfortable game and we did not get much chances in the first half.” Bengaluru played aggressive in the later half. “We created good chances but it was not enough to score. We did not achieve the result we wanted but the game was good,” he said.
Of the six national players included in the squad, Transport United started with five for the game. The match also saw Eze Collins of Transport United from Nigeria coming in place of Dawa Tshering in the 72nd minute. The 32-year-old striker from Nigeria returned to the club after ten years and would be with the club for the upcoming Thimphu league season.
Defender Choki Wangchuk said the team dominated the first half. “Second half was a problem to us as the game was pressing. We were not fit.” He added that the away game would be difficult with different weather and altitude situation. “We are not used to playing on natural turfs.”
Antonio Dovale of Bengaluru said the environment in the stadium was not easy. “We tried to come over the situation concerning us. But, we are disappointed with the result.”
Although Bengaluru planned to start the AFC championship with its young squad, the match saw only one of the B division players in the starting lineup.
More than 3,000 spectators witnessed the debutant Transport United play the equally contested game at the Changlingmithang in the first leg of the AFC cup 2018 preliminary round. The second leg of the match will be played in Bengaluru, India on January 30.