It’s never done until it’s over: Westwood

Going a goal down, answering back emphatically with three well-worked goals and coming out of perhaps the most crucial 90 minutes for the Blues in the I-League season, gaffer Ashley Westwood could be caught in a dilemma of whether to savour a memorable victory or wrap his head around this Sunday’s game where a Bengaluru win will allow his side to claim a second National Championship in three years.

“It is never done until it is over. I have seen too much football to that it is done. That was the message that I gave to the players. I asked them to calm down but at the same time enjoy the victory after what was a really good performance,” he said.

The 3-1 win against East Bengal put the Blues in pole position to clinch the I-League with 29 points from 14 games. The Bengaluru side have the chance to seal the Championship at home if they prevail over Salgaocar FC this Sunday. While the Gaffer has always maintained that he likes to take it one game at a time, the chance of potential I-League glory at the Fortress has meant that the game against the Goan team has taken a hint of precedence over the Blues’ AFC Cup engagement, a tie against Ayeyawady United mid-week.

“I normally look at the next game but this time we need to look at Salgaocar a bit more closely and figure out what we need against them. We have played against Ayeyawady recently but depending on what we need against Salgaocar, we will have to see what the best formula is and find the right balance,” he said.

On a night where much went right for the Blues, Westwood commended young Malsawmzuala’s mental make-up. “He made a mistake and after that we wondered whether he would crumble and go into a shell. He is just 18 and he could have gone under but he didn’t, he showed strong character and I think no one else deserved a goal more than he did,” he said. “A couple of experienced lads went straight to Zuala after that mistake, pepped him up and he snapped right out of it and went on to have a really good game”, said Westwood.

The Blues missed John Johnson due to suspension and Keegan Pereira was deployed at centre-half to partner Curtis Osano. Pereira, a specialist full-back, acquitted himself honourably, winning praise from the Head Coach. “I think Keegan had big shoes to fill. With Johno out, you miss out on a bit of aggression and presence but Keegan and Curtis didn’t miss out on anything in the air. They were physical and won key battles. As an ex centre-half, if I played like Keegan and Curtis did, I would be pleased with myself,” he said.

While the Gaffer hinted that he appreciates the position that his side are in, with respect to the title, he was quick to sound a cautionary note, albeit a humorous one. “We’ve got one foot in the door but I have told the lads that they need to be switched on about the task ahead. I have had one foot in at many a nightclub door and been refused entry, so I will make sure that does not happen.” he chuckled.


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