Football: Tampines' AFC Cup tie against Bengaluru to be played behind closed doors

A police officer inspects the remains of a car that was set ablaze during violent protests in Bengaluru on Sept 13, 2016.
A police officer inspects the remains of a car that was set ablaze during violent protests in Bengaluru on Sept 13, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE - Tampines Rovers will play their Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup first leg quarter-final against India's Bengaluru FC on Wednesday in Bangalore behind closed doors at the 24,000-seater Sree Kanteerava Stadium.

The kick-off time of the match, orginally scheduled for 7pm local time (9pm Singapore time) has been shifted earlier to 4pm local time.

This decision was made on Tuesday evening by the local authorities and AFC officials, and it comes after violent protests, arson and riots have rocked the Indian city this week.

After arriving in Bangalore on Monday, the Stags trained at their hotel's parking area, as they were advised to cancel their training session at Bangalore Football Stadium to ensure the safety of the squad.

Some areas of the city are under a police curfew, while thousands of policemen have been deployed to guard and patrol the streets. Many schools and offices are shut and group gathering in public areas is banned.

At the pre-match press conference, Bengaluru's new coach Albert Roca said: "It is unfortunate that we will not have our fans. It's a real shame but we need to accept it and put on a good performance.

"I have spoken to the players, and it won't be an excuse. Everyone wants to play with support and we will try to do our best."

Roca will be eager to get off to a winning start in his first competitive game in charge of the team since joining the Indian side in late July.

The 53-year-old Spaniard is a former assistant coach at Catalan giants Barcelona from 2003 to 2008.

Like Bengaluru, Tampines have never reached the last four at the AFC Cup.

The Stags are aiming to be the first S-League team to reach the semi-finals at the continental tournament since Geylang International and Home United in 2004.

They have reached the quarter-finals thrice, in 2005, 2006 and 2007.