The silver medals have been tucked away and Bengaluru FC are on their way to the Super Cup in Bhubaneshwar. At Gate 2 of the Kempegowda International Airport, skipper Sunil Chhetri sits down to speak about the two weeks that have passed since the final of the Indian Super League, against Chennaiyin FC, at the Fortress.
„All the players struggled for the first few days, but it’s sunk in. I’ve learned to move on from defeat and pick myself back up, but this game was different. It stayed on and it will for a long time. The Cup was something we really wanted to win and losing the way we did was a tough pill to swallow.“
Ready to fly to Bhubaneshwar, Chhetri feels the Super Cup poses the best opportunity for the Blues to bounce back. Having won the Federation Cup in 2016 and most recently an Indian Super League clash against Jamshedpur in Odisha, the skipper feels the city is a ‚happy hunting ground‘ for the Blues.
„Going to Odisha feels good, because we won the Federation Cup there last year, and we also won convincingly against Jamshedpur in the ISL. We’re going into a new tournament now, the Super Cup, and against teams we may never have played before, so it’s exciting. Gokulam are a good side, and I know they’ll be tough to face. We played them in pre-season; they were a quality team then and I’m sure they’ve only improved.“
The Blues, after their opening clash of the Super Cup, travel to face Aizawl FC in Guwahati in their second Group E clash of the AFC Cup and Chhetri feels the month ahead will be one that tests the depth of his squad.
„The coach has been very fortunate to be able to pick two teams this season; one for the ISL and another for the AFC Cup. Juggling the teams has been important because of the number of games we’ve had to play, and it shows the balance in the team. Every player on this squad is pushing each other to become better and that is very important at any successful football club.“
As he heads into the aircraft, the skipper signs off, but not before recalling another tough night at the Fortress. „I know that nothing I say can make a difference. But I want the fans to know that that what they sing from up there stands true, now more than ever. We are BFC and we aren’t done. We’ll pick ourselves up and we’ll keep fighting. We cannot forget that we are the same club that lost the League title on the final day in 2015; everyone remembers what we did the following season. It can never be an individual effort. You the fans and us the players, we’re going to lift each other up and go again. It’s the only way.“
The Blues take on Gokulam Kerala FC in their opening match of the Super Cup, at the Kalinga Stadium, in Bhubaneshwar, at 5 pm on Sunday.