I knew we had a chance: coach

After playing down title hopes for the duration of their campaign, Bengaluru FC boss Ashley Westwood finally admitted that it was ‘secretly always on my mind’.

Speaking to the media here at the Kempegowda International Airport on Tuesday, a day after beating Dempo 4-2 at Fatorda in Margao, Westwood revealed that he thought they could win the title even before they had kicked a ball.

“We were never supposed to win it. But I knew it (we had a chance) when we gave the Indian national side a real good game.

“I knew we had the basis of a good team,” he said.

“But it’s the responsibility of a manager to not the let the pressure get on to the boys. I just wanted them to remain focussed and relaxed.”

One of the League’s premier centre-backs John Johnson said he knew it was within their grasp when they beat Mohun Bagan away from home.

“At the away game at Mohun Bagan, that was a massive game for us. When we showed great character and won 2-0, I thought 'this could be our chance, this could be our year. This is our year now.’”

Striker Robin Singh said it was an emotional time for everyone associated with the club.

“After the match on Monday (against Dempo), I had tears in my eyes. When I was walking to congratulate my team-mates, they were all welled up as well. This shows how much the tournament means to us.”

Skipper Sunil Chhetri, who is the joint-top leading scorer with 14 along with Shillong Lajong’s Cornell Glen, described Westwood’s ‘madness’ as one of his best attributes.

“Apart from his technical and coaching qualities, the one aspect that really makes him the best is his madness.

“A mentor, a friend at times on and off the field. If there is one reason why we are standing here as I-League champions, it’s because of him.”

Even as he was saying this, Westwood was being lifted by his players and support staff.
An apt end to what has been a surreal beginning.

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