Chhetri: Roca will be badly missed

BFC's next fixture is the AFC Cup Inter-Zone Semifinal tie against Turkmenistan’s Altyn Asyr FK in August, which does not give any incoming head coach a great deal of time to prepare.

Indian football captain Sunil Chhetri addresses a press conference ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Bengaluru.   -  PTI

Sunil Chhetri has hailed Albert Roca's influence on Bengaluru FC, stating that he was “very sad” to see the Spaniard leave the club.

Roca, who joined BFC as head coach in 2016, quit last month after presiding over two successful seasons. “The fact that all the 30 players were really sad – some of them were almost crying when he said he was leaving – tells you how important he was,” Chhetri said on Wednesday.

“I'm very sad about it. Tactically and technically we were so good under him. But as a human being, as our leader, our boss, he was brilliant to work with. Even the players who didn't get many chances – who were very few – had good things to say about him. We improved a lot under him, played some beautiful football – among the best an Indian club team has played. That is why he's going to be missed, badly.”

READ: Lopetegui sacked by Spain on eve of World Cup

Chhetri, who was announced as the brand ambassador for fantasy sports platform Starpick.in, praised Roca for giving players freedom on the pitch.

“He was somebody who made sure we worked hard off the ball and defended as a team. But going forward, he allowed us a lot of freedom which brought out something in us,” he said.

“Udanta Singh is one example. He was so fond of Udanta. He allowed him to express himself. 'Just go and do what you're good at,' he told him. He made sure - nicely, with a pat on his back - that he would come back and defend. That's why Udanta did really well, Rahul (Bheke) did well, and Subhasish (Bose) was a revelation. And all this is because of Roca. The players will tell you.”

READ: World Cup 2018: Golden oldies, rising stars, Russian readiness and thunderclaps

BFC's next fixture is the AFC Cup Inter-Zone Semifinal tie against Turkmenistan’s Altyn Asyr FK in August, which does not give any incoming head coach a great deal of time to prepare.

“I hope there won't be a long period of transition,” Chhetri said. “I firmly believe that the administration is going to bring in someone able. I just hope that they do their homework well and bring the right guy, someone who is knowledgeable and has the same passion.

We did that when Ashley Westwood left and Roca came in. We were lucky to get both of them. I hope we are third time lucky. We need to do it quick, because we have a game on August 22. Some players have left and it's a sad feeling, but we have kept the core of the team,” Chhetri signed off.