Bashundhara Kings completed their AFC Cup preparation by securing a 1-0 win over Arambagh Krira Sangha in their 21st match of the ongoing Bangladesh Premier League at the Bir Shrestha Shaheed Shipahi Mostafa Kamal Stadium in Kamalapur on Thursday.
Kings fielded a second-string team against the bottom-placed Arambagh KS and rested most of their main players keeping their eyes on their upcoming AFC Cup group stage matches, scheduled to take place on August 18-24 in Male, Maldives.
Kings earlier on Monday confirmed their BPL title with a 2-0 win over second-placed Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club Limited.
Sheikh Jamal thrashed Uttar Baridhara 5-1 on Thursday after Gambian forward Pa Omar Jobe netted four goals for his side.
“We did everything, took preparations in every possible way before the AFC Cup. We played league matches, we played competitive matches against Sheikh Jamal. AFC Cup matches are too competitive. I think we have prepared very well. All of our players, coaching staff are confident enough,” Kings captain Topu Barman told the reporters after the match.
Meanwhile, Kings received a blow ahead of their upcoming AFC Cup 2021 campaign as their three key local players - forward Matin Mia, defender Rimon Hossain and vice-captain Tawhidul Alam Sabuz were ruled out from the squad due to different reasons.
Matin failed to fly with the team due to passport complications while Rimon suffered an injury and Sabuz tested positive for Covid-19 that made them unavailable in the AFC Cup campaign.
Kings Argentine forward Raul Oscar Becerra, midfielder Obaid Rahman Nuab and defender Yeasin Khan have also been carrying mild injuries though they flew with the team.
Nigeria-born Bangladeshi citizen Eleta Kingsley is also uncertain for the first match as he is yet to get clearance from FIFA.
Kings President Imrul Hassan, however, expected a better result in the competition despite not getting their local three players.
“The team is confident enough and highly motivated. Our goal is the zonal championship. Matin, Rimon and Sabuz will miss the tour, unfortunately, but the rest of the team are fit and well-prepared. We are working for Kingsley's clearance,” Imrul said.
Kings will play against Maziya Sports and Recreation Club of Maldives on August 18, the winners of South Asian play-off on August 21 and ATK Mohun Bagan of India on August 24, all at National Stadium in Male.
Kings’ Spanish head coach Oscar Bruzon said that they needed to start well in the competition to increase their chances to qualify for the next round.
“After analyzing our rivals, I feel everybody is at the same level. All teams are equally strong. We need to fully concentrate on our games,” he said.
“We respect our rivals because they are one of the best teams in their countries. However, if we can win against Mazia, our chances will increase in the second game. Maldives weather, pitch aren’t very different from Bangladesh. So, I hope we will play our natural game,” he ended.