Bengaluru FC coach Albert Roca, on Wednesday, sought to remove the perception that the team is over-reliant on talismanic skipper Sunil Chhetri but made it clear that his wards will have to play out of their skins in the final of AFC Cup if they are to win the title.
Indian captain Chhetri led Bengaluru FC to a historic AFC Cup final berth by scripting an inspiring 3-1 win over defending champions Johor Darul Ta’zim with his stunning double strike in Bengaluru
This is the first instance of an Indian club playing in the final of AFC Cup.
“We play as a team and Sunil is the captain of that team. It’s going to take everyone to chip in with their best performances if we are to give ourselves a chance in the final. Whether Sunil scores or not, he’s always working hard,” he said.
“He didn’t score in the quarterfinal and the first leg of the semis but Vineeth and Eugene came up with goals. We won’t be depending on Sunil but I know he will lead the team just as he has been all these years,” Roca added.
Roca is at the helm of affairs as the club chases history again.
“It sure feels nice to be part of Indian football history despite having very little time with the team. It’s also a testament to how hard the boys and the staff have worked to bring the club to this moment. But there is so much more to achieve and we cannot afford to be satisfied with this. We have one more chance to do something special and that’s what we have been focusing on.”
Bengaluru FC’s opponents in the summit showdown, Iraq’s Air Force FC, have scored 26 goals so far in the campaign.
Asked if has any particular plan for Hammadi Ahmed who has run riot in the AFC Cup 2016 so far, having scored 15 goals, Roca said, “I spend time with the technical staff on the opponents and we’re doing as much homework as we can.”
“We’re definitely going into this game with a plan and can only hope that it unfolds the way we want it to. Of course, that will mean the boys do everything that is asked of them and maybe more.”
When asked how telling a blow could be first goalkeeper Amrinder Singh’s absence in the final, he said, “It’s a shame that he’s missing out but we back (Lalthuammawia) Ralte equally.
A handful of fans are likely to travel to Doha to cheer for the Blues.
On road to eternal glory
1. Bengaluru FC is the first Indian club to have reached the final of the AFC Cup
2. In the semi-final of the tournament, Bengaluru FC defeated the defending champions Johor Darul Ta’zim
3. Chettri, Vineet, Lyngdoh have shone for the club on the front, Chettri scoring a brace in the 2nd leg of the semis