Bengaluru FC, on Saturday, announced that the club would be travelling to China as part of their pre-season preparations. Scheduled to leave on Wednesday, the I-League champions will play three practice matches over two weeks.
BFC will be taking on Hong Kong Premier League side Eastern AA on September 28. The team are current champions of the Hong Kong FA Cup and have won the First Division four times. In their second fixture, the Blues will be up against another club from Hong Kong, Kitchee SC. Kitchee are currently in the semifinals of the AFC Cup and have enjoyed much success in the League. Westwood’s team will end their trip with an October 9 game against Chinese Super League side Guangzhou R&F Football Club. Coached by former England manager, Sven-Goran Eriksson, Guangzhou finished 3rd in the 2014 season of the Chinese Super League.
Coach Ashley Westwood said the tour would be an ideal preparation given the club’s participation in Asian competitions this season. “We are really looking forward to test ourselves in a foreign country at a different standard. We were proven and deserved champions of the I-League last season but now we are going to test ourselves at a different level. Playing some competitive games against teams from China and Hong Kong will give us an idea of how we will figure in the AFC Champions League and the AFC Cup. We are really grateful to the management and the owners for supporting our view and enabling us to set the benchmark of one of the most professionally run clubs in India.”
Regrouping in July after winning the League last season, Bengaluru FC travelled to Goa for a couple of friendlies against Salgaocar and Pune FC. But the club believes the trip away from Indian shores will bode the club well for the season ahead. “The team has worked very hard to win the League last year and, as a club, we felt that they should get the best possible preparation for the AFC games and the season in general,” said Mustafa Ghouse, COO, Bengaluru FC.
Westwood hopes his boys make the most of the chance. “Hopefully the players will relish and flourish at this opportunity the club has given them to keep improving all the time and make a name for themselves in Indian football,” he concurred.