AFC Cup finalists Bengaluru FC will play North Korea’s April 25 Sports Club in the inter-zone semi-finals later this year. The Indian club reached the final of Asia’s second-tier competition, only to lose out Iraq’s Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya by a 1-0 scoreline. As a result, they have earned a clash with April 25 SC next season which will be an enthralling affair with the North Korean club due to host the return leg in the 114,000 packed May Day Stadium in September.
April 25 SC qualified for the inter-zonal finals by winning the east zone group, which included the likes of Kigwancha SC and Mongolian side Erchim SC. On the other hand, Bengaluru went through a similar qualification process as they ran victors in the south zone group which involved Indian heavyweights, Mohun Bagan. Both clubs are particularly new to this stage of a competition, and Bengaluru’s coach admitted that he has no clue over the opponent’s strengths and weaknesses.
“April 25 SC are a side we’ve got very little information about so this will be challenge of a different kind. We’ve got a good two months to prepare for this fixture and that’s what we’ll do. We did well in this competition and it is our aim to go one better than last time and win the cup,” Blues’ boss Albert Roca told reporters.
Bengaluru FC have made it to the third round of the AFC Cup in the past three seasons, and they will be hoping to progress further and the clinch the competition which they nearly won a year ago. No Indian A-League club had reached the final of the AFC Cup prior to Bengaluru’s run last season, and the fans will be encouraged by the club’s progress as it could improve the overall performance of the nation in the coming years.