Chhetri says Bengaluru FC aiming for AFC Cup title
New Delhi, Dec 27 (IANS) Bengaluru FC captain Sunil Chhetri says they will try their level best to better the previous season’s successful campaign with a title win at the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup.
Apart from clinching the 2016 I-League title, Albert Roca-coached Bengaluru became the first Indian club to reach the AFC Cup final, where they lost to Iraq’s Air Force Sports Club 0-1 on November 5.
And Chhetri, the leading striker of the southern outfit, on Tuesday felt that it will be a cherry on the cake if they managed to defend the 2017 I-League title and go a step ahead than last season at the AFC Cup.
“It will be another tough season but we are hopeful of doing well. What we did this year — to win the I-League and reaching the AFC Cup final — was great. This season (2017) it will be an absolute dream to win the AFC Cup,” Chhetri said on Tuesday on the sidelines of the launch of the I-League which starts on January 7.
“We experienced a great campaign at the AFC Cup. We now know the tasks that await us in 2017 and we need to be ready for that. We should give another try at it (winning AFC Cup),” the India captain added.
Asked about the challenges ahead in their I-League title defence, the 32-year-old reflected on how the upcoming season will be different and difficult. Chennai FC and Minerva Punjab FC are new entrants into the league, while Churchil Brothers are back in the fold.
Chhetri acknowledged that the fight with Kolkata giants Mohun Bagan and East Bengal will be fierce but the new teams will look to leave their mark by making life difficult for them.
“We will see a different and a difficult I-League season for us. Apart from the new clubs, we can see every club is getting better. We have a good team but we need to prove that by performance,” he said.
“It was a little bit easier in the the first year (2013-14) for us than the last two seasons. When you are a new team, people tend to not take notice but once you win the trophy every club is after you,” he added.
“In 2016, we were one of the contenders, so it was not at all easy. But ahead of the 2017 I-League, people are talking of us being one of the favourites, so we can sense the difficulty.”