We're upbeat: Sunil

Bengaluru FC captain Sunil Chetri feels that his team making it to the summit clash of the AFC Cup heralds a beginning of the revival of Indian football.

By Agencies in Doha
  • Published 3.11.16
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Sunil Chetri

Doha: Bengaluru FC captain Sunil Chetri feels that his team making it to the summit clash of the AFC Cup heralds a beginning of the revival of Indian football.

Bengaluru FC take on Iraq's Air Force Club in Saturday's final at the Qatar SC Stadium here.

"Bengaluru FC reaching the AFC Cup final in the host country of the 2022 World Cup and hopefully winning it has signalled the beginning of the revival of Indian football as an Asian power. So, we're very much determined to win the title. We are upbeat," said Chetri.

The 32-year-old striker, who has scored 51 goals in 91 international caps, said that Qatar's Indian community will help his side create history for Indian football in their adopted homeland. "There is no better place in Asia for this revival to begin than in Doha, which will host the 2022 World Cup," Chetri was quoted as saying by www.sc.qa.

"We've already reached out to the Indian community in Doha and have begun receiving such warm responses promising support for the final. I am confident our fellow-Indians living in Doha will turn up at the Qatar SC Stadium in large numbers on November 5.

"I would like to tell them that our appearance in the final is not just about the city of Bengaluru or the state of Karnataka. It is about India and its revival in Asian football in your adopted homeland, which will host the World Cup," Chetri added.

He was in Doha as a part of the national team for the 2011 AFC Asian Cup, the first time India qualified for the elite continental competition since 1984. "I had never thought of it before winning the semi-finals, but I think I have a special bond with Doha," Chetri said.

"I hope my connection with the city helps my club win the final. The Asian Cup was a big learning curve for Indian football and I managed to score two goals as well against Bahrain and South Korea. However, the AFC Cup final is a different ball game.

"It is about signalling India's resurgence in the Asian scene. We've battled through for a year and made it here." Bengaluru FC coach Albert Roca sought to remove the perception that the team is over-reliant on talismanic skipper Chetri but made it clear that his wards will have to play out of their skins in the final of AFC Cup if they are to win the title.

"We play as a team and Sunil is the leader of that team. It's going to take everyone to chip in with their best performances if we are to give ourselves a chance in the final. Whether Sunil scores or not, he's always working hard," Roca said.