Skipper Says Team Is Keen To Make The Most Out Of Inconsequential Group Tie Against JDT With Knock-Out Game Around The Corner
Skipper Sunil Chhetri said the dressing room has put behind a disappointing Federation Cup campaign and has channeled all focus on going one step ahead in the AFC Cup. The Blues departed for Malaysia on Monday where they will play Cup holders Johor Darul Ta’zim in what will be an inconsequential Group H game given both teams have made it to the Round-of-16.
“It’s disappointing that our Fed Cup title defence ended the way it did but the lads know better than to brood and let it pull us down. We’ve made the Round-of-16 in the AFC Cup for the second year running and we’d really like to go one step ahead this season. Everyone in the dressing room is committed to putting on a good show,” said Chhetri.
Bengaluru will finish their League commitments as runners-up of the group and the Blues’ opponents for the pre-quarters will be determined on Wednesday as the battle for pole position in Group F is a three-way tie between Kitchee (Hong Kong),Kaya FC (Philippines) and Balestier Khalsa (Singapore). But irrespective of who Bengaluru’s opponents are, Chhetri said it would be anything but easy. “Asia is a completely different stage. We’ve been here and have more than a fair idea of what we’re in for. That said, there’s no pressure for us. We are not thinking about our opponents, we leave that to the coaching staff. We have a game before that against the champions and it’s important we focus on doing well on Wednesday as it will give the team confidence before the knock-out game,” said the skipper.
Chhetri had no part to play in the home leg of the tie as Ashley Westwood chose to field a young squad that went down by the solitary goal and the No.11 said he used the chance to watch keenly from the bench. “It’s not for no reason that JDT are champions of the AFC Cup. We’ve played them twice now and I can safely tell you they are a solid team. We’ve also played them in their home last season and the support they enjoy is brilliant. The game has no bearing on the table but I don’t expect them to take it lightly. As for us, this is the only competitive game we have before the pre-quarters so I’m certain we will be making the most of it.”