ISL final a big game for Bengaluru, says Roca, one of biggest in Sunil Chhetri's career
Ahead of the Indian Super League final in Bengaluru on Saturday where Bengaluru play Chennaiyin, Blues head coach Albert Roca talked about how important the game was for the club and the city.
The two finalists saw off FC Pune City and FC Goa in their respective ISL semi-finals to qualify for the final and the coach expects the toughest game of the season that he says his team is up for both mentally and physically.
"It's so important for the franchise and the city for Bengaluru FC to reach the final," said coach Albert Roca.
"We had started in August due to the AFC Cup and we've tried to succeed this season. There's one more step but I'm very happy for the players, staff, and fans who have always been behind us all season."
"Tomorrow's final will be the most difficult game of the season but we are ready for the challenge."
Bengaluru have had a couple of injuries and a suspension ahead of the final which threw a spanner in the works but coach Roca is happy with who he has available for the final.
"I trust my squad. We have some problems because some players are not available," Roca explained. "Subhasish [Bose] got his second yellow card - he was playing well but he won't be there at full-back.
"It's been a short and intensive season and I know that the players who play tomorrow will give 100% to win the game. We'll try to prepare mentally and physically as much as we can.
"It's going to be a very, very difficult game tomorrow. But let's see, we just have to score one more goal than them."
ISL final is one of the biggest games of our careers: Chhetri
Bengaluru FC captain Sunil Chhetri also expects a tough game and spoke about how the previous result would not have any bearing on the final since both teams had beaten each other in the league stage.
"For a club that has won four trophies in four years, we have done really well for ourselves to come into a new league," Chhetri said.
"I'm so happy with whatever we've achieved till now so tomorrow's match is right up there as one of the most important games we've played."
Chennaiyin were one of few teams who came away from the Kanteerava with three points during the league stage of the season and that result could play on the Blues' psyche. However, Chhetri was clear that that result was long forgotten thanks to their good run of form following the defeat.
"If that game had been played only a week back then it probably would have had some sort of psychological effect," Chhetri said. "We had lost to Jamshedpur FC too but after that we beat Chennaiyin at their stadium.
"We don't think too much about that game but we do think about what we learned from that game - one being they are good in set-pieces. We conceded in the 8th minute from a free-kick where Dhanpal [Ganesh] scored.
"We watched their games and I think they're a strong team who work really hard on set-pieces but I don't think that game is fresh in our minds. The result is, but not the game."
The Blues skipper also had a message to the fans who are expected to turn up in numbers tomorrow. The tickets for the final were sold out online and offline within hours and fans were seen scurrying for tickets even after they were sold out.
"We're going to go there and give everything that we've got," Chhetri said. "Just come and support us. We'll make sure that we give you a show."
The final kicks off at the Kanteerava Stadium at 8 PM on Saturday, 17 March.