Kitchee Raring to Go in AFC Cup Round of 16 Clash

After finishing as the top place team in Group F, Kitchee is set to kick things up a notch by taking on stiffer competitions in the AFC Cup 2016 round of 16. Standing in Kitchee’s way for a quarter-final berth will be Indian side JSW Bengaluru. The two sides will clash heads on Wednesday night in Mongkok Stadium and kick-off time for the tasty matchup will be 8:00pm. Unlike the group stage, the round of 16 clash between Kitchee and JSW Bengaluru will be a one-off, winner-take-all, elimination match. Hence Kitchee supporters are encouraged to show up in droves and to create an electrifying home atmosphere for the Blues come match evening. Kitchee, largely an in-form side in the AFC Cup circuit, will enter the game against JSW Bengaluru riding on a three-game AFC Cup winning streak. The Indian side, in contrast, only completed the group stage (Group H) with three wins, three losses and nine points from six games, while finishing as the runner-up of the group. During JSW Bengaluru’s six group matches, the Indian side scored nine times but conceded ten goals, indicating a rather average performance in both attack and defense. In the side’s three away matches, JSW Bengaluru came out with one win and two losses, while finding the net twice and conceding five times. As long as Kitchee stays cautious and focused come match time, the Blues’ chances for advancing to the next round should be reasonably optimistic. Rufino Sgovia, who has netted five goals for Kitchee from six AFC Cup group games, maintains as long as the Blues can keep up with the recent showing in the tournament, the side should have enough to overcome JSW Bengaluru on Wednesday. “We are playing at home on Wednesday night in front of our own supporters, I think that is going to be a tremendous boost for the team,” the Spaniard expressed. “Although this is going to be a one-off knockout game, but we still need to play with the same confidence and organization that we have always shown. In addition, we need to focus on our own performance and not dwell on what the opponent might do.” The steadily maturing defender Li Ngai-hoi points out Kitchee is peaking at the right time and if the side can capitalize on its scoring chances, the Blues should give JSW Bengaluru a serious run for its money. “From what we have seen on video, JSW Bengaluru players are generally quite well-built and play a typical English style of football. Therefore we really need to pay attention defensively, try to control the match tempo right from the start and then apply various tactics later in the game to try to snatch the winner,” Li assessed.