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AFC Cup 2018: "I-League not too different from Asian competition," says Aizwl FC coach Santosh Kashyap

Vrinda Chopra
950   //    26 Apr 2018, 15:01 IST

Santosh Kashyap
Santosh Kashyap

What’s the story?

Aizawl’s AFC Cup journey ended post their 1-1 draw against Abahani Dhaka in the group stages of the competition on Wednesday.

While speaking to the media regarding his first appearance in the AFC Cup, Aizawl FC head coach, Santosh Kashyap claimed that the contest was much like the I-League.

In case you didn’t know…

An Emeka Darlington penalty put the Bangladesh side in the lead just after the half-hour mark. However, a strike from Andrei Ionescu found the back of the net in the 65th minute of the game, making the scores level. Regardless, Aizawl FC have been mathematically knocked out of the AFC Cup – having registered just one point from the four matches the Indian side has played.

The heart of the matter

The 2018 AFC Cup has not been the best of performance from the Mizoram side. Nonetheless, their coach claims to have been proud of his men. While addressing the media during the post-match press conference, Santosh Kashyap claimed that the AFC competition is quite like the I-League.

The 51-year-old said, "My players made me proud. They always try to win the matches whenever they take the field. We had a couple of injuries and since our squad is not big enough it was difficult."

On being asked about his debut run in the AFC Cup, the Aizawl FC coach said, "For a club like Aizawl FC, playing in the AFC Cup is a big thing. We have learnt that we have to improve in management as well as in the technical part.

"Playing in the I-League helps a lot. I don't think that the AFC Cup has much of a difference from our country's league," he added.

The former Mohun Bagan coach advocated that the preparation for next season is already underway at Aizawl FC. He said, "We have already started planning for the next season and started talking with some players."

What’s next?

Aizawl FC will now face their fellow Indian club, Bengaluru FC in the AFC Cup next week, on May 2, 2018. While this fixture may not affect the Mizo club’s stance in the group anymore, it is a must-win game for the Blues following their loss to New Radiant SC.

 Author’s take

The Indian clubs have been performing well in the AFC Cup so far. Unfortunately, after Aizawl’s elimination from the contest, Bengaluru FC are the sole Indian side standing tall with a chance to qualify for the next round. The tournament has taken an interesting turn as far as the group stages are concerned, and it will indeed be fun to watch who emerges as the winner of the 2018 edition of the competition.

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