He’s Played Across Seven Different Countries In The World But Big Erik Paartalu Says That Friday’s Final Is A Place He’s Never Been Before…
He’s a picture of just the kind of calm you need on one of the biggest matchdays in the Blues’ season so far. Erik Paartalu’s focused on the task ahead – and knows that it won’t be an easy one.
“I’ve played two finals in Australia, but it’s quite different there. It’s like the Indian Super League final, where the top six in the League get a chance to have a go at the title. I was lucky enough to win that trophy back-to-back but, this is new, because I’ve never come this far in a knockout competition. It’s a first for me and it will be tough,” he says.
The effort to shrug away the disappointment is a valiant one when the subject of the Indian Super League final is thrown into the mix. The Blues went down 3-2 to Chennaiyin FC in what was their only defeat in the last 17 games, and Paartalu believes that though nothing can make up for losing out on that medal, Friday offers a chance to bounce back.
“Everyone’s hungry for a little bit of redemption. The ISL final is still there in the back of our minds, but to be honest, winning or losing won’t make up for losing that game. It’s more of a reaction that we’re looking for and hopefully we can say to ourselves that we bounced back like champions,” he adds.
The Australian put in an immense shift in Bengaluru’s hard-fought 4-2 comeback win over Mohun Bagan in the semifinal on Tuesday and rewinds to that game for inspiration. “I’ve never scored four goals with ten men on the pitch! To be a part of a team that never says die is something that always gives us a chance. If things don’t go our way this evening, we’ll be holding on to that thought.”
Aser Pierrick Dipanda Dicka scored Mohun Bagan’s opener in the first half before Nishu Kumar was shown a red to put the Blues at a goal and a man disadvantage, but Paartalu recalls that oft repeated phrase about the ‘going’ and the ‘tough’.
“You have to stay positive in moments like the one on Tuesday. We know that we can score goals if we create chances. It could be a long ball from the goalkeeper to Sunil or just a nice passage of play. We trusted the process and that’s what paid off,” he says.
The Blues are set to play the last three group games of the AFC Cup after today’s final, and Paartalu knows that this could be the last time he takes the field with some of his teammates, who aren’t a part of the club’s squad for the continental competition.
“I think the best way to end a season is to win something together. No matter which direction these players go, they’ll always remember that they did something special with a group and a team that they shared the dressing room with. I always look back on my memories in Australia or Scotland, where I was fortunate to win a few titles. I’ve not won anything personally since I was 26 years old. I’m sure there are other players in the team who’ve never won anything or some who’ve won a lot. But, nobody wants to miss a chance of winning silverware. We feel that, but it’s the good sort of pressure, the kind that pushes you to deliver. We’ll go out there and give all we’ve got, to try and finish off the season in style.”