Sunil Chhetri (Getty Images)
New Delhi: India’s Garden City Bangalore is all set to usher in an early Diwali, possibly a louder and more lively one when Bengaluru FC take on the current AFC Cup champions Johor Darul Takzim FC at the Kanteerava Stadium on Wednesday evening in the second-leg of the AFC Cup semi-finals.
For the hosts, another piece of history beckons, another first for them in less than 4 years of existence.
Bengaluru FC come into this crucial clash with the slender advantage of a 1-1 draw, at the home of the reigning AFC Cup champions Johor DT. The tie is far from over and the hosts who have an away goal advantage are well aware.
In an exclusive conversation with CNN-News18, Sunil Chhetri made it clear that they weren’t taking things lightly when he said ‘the tie is far from done and there’s still a big portion of the job to complete.’
Visitors Johor come into the game handicapped; two of their main strikers Juan Martin Lucero and Pereyra Diaz are suspended for the game, a possible advantage for BFC, as both are among the top scorers in the competition.
BFC, who will not hold back on home soil are expected to go in all guns blazing. Managed by the former Barcelona assistant coach Albert Roca, BFC have done well at home and there is a confident feeling.
'We have had a good record at home and we hope to make that count when it matters the most,’ Chhetri, India’s highest goal-scorer told CNN-News18.
Roca who comes with the experience of being in the winners’ dugout of a UEFA Champions League final will look use his vast experience to ensure the magnitude of the moment doesn’t affect his boys. His marquee forward Sunil Chhetri believes such a vast diary of experience is bound to help.
Bengaluru FC, have been the most successful club in Indian football since 2013 and as they aim to become the first Indian club to play in the AFC Cup Final, Chhetri had one message for the fans ahead of the Johor clash; ‘this game cuts beyond cities and states. This game is about India. Every Indian football fan needs to understand the importance of the 19th and come out and cheer us on.’
The battle cry has been sounded and Indian football is looking for a moment bigger than East Bengal’s 2003 ASEAN Cup win