Our supporters could make the difference: Roca

The Blues Boss Calls For His Side To Make The Home Advantage Count When Istiklol Come Visiting On October 18

Dushanbe, Tajikistan: Coach Albert Roca called on his side to rise to the occasion at the Fortress after Bengaluru FC were edged out 1-0 by FC Istiklol in the first leg of the AFC Cup inter-zonal final at the Hisor Central Stadium, in the capital city of Dushanbe on Wednesday.

Striker Dmitrii Barkov’s goal in the 27th minute meant the Tajik champions take a narrow but vital 1-0 lead when they travel to the Kanteerava on October 18. The Blues meanwhile, would need to win by a two-goal margin if they are to set up a repeat of last year’s final with Air Force Club, Iraq.

“I was happy with the way we played for most parts of the game and felt we were denied what was a definite shout for a penalty in the last minute but the referee chose to look the other way. But that’s football. As things stand, we have the chance to make this right at our home and it’s down to us to fight and get the result we need,” said Roca after the game.

Bengaluru piled pressure on the hosts in the final 15 minutes of the game, creating a flurry of chances as an equaliser looked like it was coming. The biggest chance came in the final minute of added time when the Blues started a counter from in the 18-yard box as Udanta Singh set off on a blistering run, leaving a blur of red shirts behind. The striker’s shot on target came off Tabrezi Davlatmir’s hand before hitting another Istiklol hand in the box. Sunil Chhetri pounced on the loose ball but his shot was kept out by ’keeper Nikola Stosic as the Bengaluru bench watched in disbelief.

“The penalty was as clear as daylight but we are not going to be spending time on what could have been. We have a little more than two weeks to work hard and throw everything on the line to progress to the final. Istiklol are a good side who have come into this game having played every weekend in the national league. We, meanwhile, are three games old. There are hurdles but we will have to overcome them if we want to achieve something,” he added.

The boss also hoped that the ever-vocal Blues faithful will turn up in big numbers for the home leg. “Our supporters have always been a source of inspiration for the team and these are the kind of games where their presence could make the difference more than always. I hope the city turns up at the Fortress in big numbers to give us the best possible chance to progress.”

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