Bhaichung Bhutia has asked Bengaluru FC players to play their hearts out and not worry about the result ahead of the AFC Cup final against Iraqi club Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya. Bhutia also called the final as the biggest event in Indian football since the 2003 ASEAN Cup final, that East Bengal won.
In 2003, East Bengal
“I think they should make sure that they give everything. That’s what we did. We also did not expect to win it(ASEAN Cup). We simply wanted to give of our best in the final, leave everything on the pitch. Bengaluru FC
The former Indian captain called the match the "biggest game" since the ASEAN Cup final and rejected any suggestion that a win in the AFC Cup, which is not the premier tournament in Asia, would not be a historic one.
“This is definitely the biggest game since the ASEAN Cup final. The interest level in our win was fantastic then and it can happen again should Bengaluru FC win. Even otherwise, this is a big achievement for them,” Bhutia explained.
“True, this is not the Asian Champions League but the AFC Cup is a big tournament. I think with the right set-up and in time, Bengaluru FC can challenge clubs from top Asian countries.”
Bhutia also praised Bengaluru FC for the professional way the club is run and saved some praise for the AIFF for having an option for clubs like Bengaluru to enter the I-League immediately.
“Bengaluru FC retained the nucleus of the squad and there is a lesson in that for Indian clubs. This team’s management has shown that you don’t be successful by overhauling the roster every season,” Bhutia said.
“With Bengaluru FC, this experiment has certainly clicked and by their performance the club has paid back the AIFF. If they win it now, it will be like living a dream.”