Indian football team captain Sunil Chhetri, on Monday, urged the entire nation to root for his club Bengaluru FC as they chase a historic final berth in the AFC Cup here on Wednesday.
Bengaluru FC will host I-League football champions — Malaysia’s Johor Darul Ta’zim FC — in a crucial Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup second-leg semi-final.
The first-leg semifinal ended in a 1-1 draw.
“To put it simply, this game will decide if Indian club football can write a new chapter in history or not. We’re on the brink of something special and it’s going to take a determined 90 minutes to set foot where no club from the country has before,” Chhetri, the country’s highest scorer, said.
He said the match is about the whole country, and not just Bengaluru.
“But more importantly this is not just about Bengaluru or Karnataka, this is about India. And that is exactly why me and my team-mates have been so vocal about getting the country to rally behind us,” Chhetri said.
Bengaluru played out a 1-1 draw with Johor Darul Ta’zim FC in the first leg match away at Johor Bahru. They will carry an advantage of an away goal in the second leg at the Kanteerava Stadium here.
Chhetri has been a part of quite a few glorious moments in Indian football history both for his club as well as the country.
“At the club level, this game is up there simply because of what we could achieve should things go our way. No club from India have been in a final before, and for us — in our three years and some months old existence — to be able to do that will be so special,” he said.
“I’ve won the major trophies with different clubs and I cherish every one of them. But to make the final of an Asian tournament will be up there,” Chhetri added.
Chhetri feels that the away-goal is an advantage but not a big one.
“It sure is an advantage but not a really big one. If Johor score a goal early on, we’re going to be chasing this game. What the away goal has done is given us the belief that we can go out there, take the fight to the champions and come away with a reward,” he said.