Bengaluru FC coach Ashley Westwood said his side lacked a bit of composure both in attack and defence as the Federation Cup holders saw their campaign end following a 3-2 (5-3 on aggregate) defeat to Aizawl FC at the Kanteerava Stadium, in Bengaluru, on Tuesday night.
Coming into the second leg following a 2-1 defeat in the away fixture, Westwood said it was always going to be uphill the moment Bengaluru conceded. “We conceded three goals which was never on the menu. We’ve always defended well and at home we never lose too many, never mind concede too many. I said before the game that we shouldn’t let them score because it is going to make our job harder. But for them to score two and then three is unthinkable and it turned out to be a major problem,” said Westwood.
Trailing to a Joel Sunday strike, Bengaluru found an instant answer through a CK Vineeth goal but ended up conceding two more before Chhetri netted a penalty. The Blues launched a series of attacks on the Aizawl goal in the second half that were kept away by former BFC ’keeper Soram Poirei. “We did score two which should have been enough if we defended properly. We created a lot of chances and got into good areas but lacked composure. It’s been a long season and the fatigue began showing.”
The gaffer had words of praise for Aizawl given the way they refused to sit back. “Credit to Aizawl. They played well and showed good spirit away. They had nothing to lose. Though they were sitting on a lead they didn’t sit back in numbers. Being relegated, they wanted to prove a point and that added spice to the way they went about things.”
When asked whether the euphoria of winning the I-League had clouded his sides’ focus for the Federation Cup, Westwood felt his squad could have handled the situation better. “In most places when you win the league, the season is finished. However here, you have a real high and then you have to get back to business all of a sudden and that takes strong characters and professionals. It looked like a few of ours have reached the high and come straight down. They’ve not carried it on. It’s been tough on the boys mentally and to be honest, some of them haven’t handled it well,” said the gaffer.
The Blues next travel to Malaysia next week where they play Johor Darul Ta’zim in an AFC Cup Group H tie of no consequence given both sides have booked a ticket to the Round-of-16. However, with the Federation Cup campaign done, Westwood suggested the game would be ideal practice before the one-off pre-quarterfinal to be played on May 25/26.
“We have eight days before we play Johor. It’s a dead game and I don’t really know what kind of side they will put out but we surely need practice before we play the Round-of-16 game. We need to be professional and switch on. We want to finish this season on a high and I hope the lads can take motivation.”