Focus now on AFC Cup, says Chhetri

It was a matter of redemption for Bengaluru FC in the Super Cup and the men in blue turned up the heat with a 4-1 demolition of East Bengal in the final on Friday.

A sultry Bhubaneswar was the setting as Albert Roca's men were faced with their final opportunity to keep their 'one title every season' record intact. And they did not disappoint.

It was the inaugural edition of the tournament and Bengaluru were still smarting from the loss in the Indian Super League final to Chennaiyin FC. Sunil Chhetri was both an emotional and relieved skipper when the final whistle was blown at the Kalinga Stadium.

"I think it was a string of emotions together. Happiness because this squad has been tremendous all through the season and we had to have a trophy to back that. I was also relieved because it was a tough tournament – mentally and physically. The conditions weren’t the easiest and we had just come back from a defeat in a final."

After the ISL, it was reported that a number of players had decided to move out of the club in search of greener pastures. With it came the risk of having a squad with some disillusioned members but Chhetri was quick to swat away such suggestions.

"The beauty about BFC every season is that the chemistry of the squad extends beyond the pitch. Everyone wanted to make this a big season because we knew we were playing some very special football."

BFC now switch focus to the AFC Cup and are keen to leave their mark on the tournament considering they will not feature in the next edition, with India's slots going to champions of the ISL (Chennaiyin) and I-League (Minerva Punjab).

"We’re now completely focused on the AFC Cup. I’m not going to make any tall claims but we’ve been within touching distance of the trophy twice in two years and I feel we have the squad this season to go all the way. We’re on course for the knock-out rounds and we need to keep this momentum going," said the talisman.

The All India Football Federation (AIFF) announced on Friday that the inaugural Intercontinental Cup, featuring South Africa, New Zealand, and Chinese Taipei will commence in Mumbai from June 1. There have been calls for India to play better opposition and in that sense, this seems like a move in right direction. In addition, the AIFF assured that the other nations will be sending their first teams, a prospect that excited the National captain.

"I’ve been told that the first teams of these countries will be playing the tournament and that’s great news for us. I’ve always spoken about the need to play better opponents more frequently if we are to get a fair idea of where we stand and where we need to improve. This tournament should let us do that," he signed off.

DH News Service

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